Thursday, January 15, 2009
Updated: January 16, 7:57 AM ET
Wawrinka reaches Kooyong final
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Stanislas Wawrinka held off Fernando Gonzalez 7-6 (3), 6-7 (1), 6-4 on Friday and will face Davis Cup teammate Roger Federer in the final of the Australian Open tuneup tournament at Kooyong.
The all-Swiss Kooyong final could be a warmup for the fourth round of the Australian Open. At the draw earlier Friday for the season's first major, Wawrinka was slotted into the same quarter as his mentor and sometimes hitting partner Federer.
Federer has a difficult run at the Australian Open, with potential matches against former No. 1 Carlos Moya in the second round, 2005 Australian champion Marat Safin in the third, Wawrinka in the fourth and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semis.
At Kooyong, the former home of the Australian Open, Wawrinka wasted a chance to serve for the match in the second set, leading 30-15 at 5-4 before Gonzalez broke back, forcing and dominating a tiebreaker.
He had two break points in the second game of the third set but Gonzalez saved both.
Wawrinka finally got match point on Gonzalez's serve in the 10th game of the deciding set, clinching the win when the Olympic singles silver medalist from Chile sent a forehand long.
Wawrinka, 23, broke into the top 10 for the first time last year, reaching two finals and partnering with Federer to win the Beijing Olympics doubles gold medal. He ended the season at No. 13 in the rankings.
"He's one of my best friends on the tour," Wawrinka said Friday. "It was very nice to stay 10 days with him to play the doubles [at the Olympics].
Gonzalez lost the 2007 Australian Open final to Federer but hasn't advanced beyond the quarterfinals of a major since. His next match will be against former No. 1-ranked Lleyton Hewitt in the first round of the Australian Open, which starts Monday.
"It's going to be one of the toughest first-rounders of all the tournament, but I am ready for that," he said. "I know that Lleyton is coming back and he is going to have the crowd with him.
"He is a really good player, great competitor, but I believe in my chances."
Croatians lost in both match in the relegation bracket.
Marcos Baghdatis beat Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-2 and Moya beat Ivan Ljubicic 7-5, 3-6, 7-5.
Federer won the Kooyong tournament in 2005.
He earned a spot in Saturday's final with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) win over No. 16-ranked Fernando Verdasco of Spain on Thursday.
Federer is bidding to equal Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam singles titles.