Australian Open Day 11: Serena Williams marches into final, Federer beats Wawrinka in five sets

Serena Williams is one win away from a record 23rd grand slam title, as she defeated Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the semi-finals of the Australian Open to set up a final against sister Venus.

Unseeded Lucic-Baroni pulled off a big upset against fifth seed Karolina Pliskova to reach a first grand slam semi-final in 18 years, but a tough test against the American was too much for her to handle, as Serena ended the Croatian’s dream run with a 6-2 6-1 victory.

Serena and Venus Williams will meet in their first major final since 2009 image: bbc.com

Serena and Venus Williams will meet in their first major final since 2009
image: bbc.com

The 22-time time grand slam champion has never lost a semi-final in Melbourne and she began strongly by breaking Lucic-Baroni in the third game of the match, on her way to maintaining that unbeaten record.

Williams raced away with the first set in just 25 minutes and there were no signs of 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni mounting a comeback in the second set, as once again Serena bagged a break point in the third game to set her on her way into the final.

The world number one proved too powerful for Lucic-Baroni, forcing her Croatian opponent in a number of errors as runs of five and six straight games in each gave the six-time Australian Open champion a dominant victory.

Serena will now face sister Venus Wiliams for a ninth time in a grand slam final, after Venus reached her first major final since 2009 with victory over fellow American Coco Vandeweghe in the semi-finals.

Vandeweghe had knocked out two former grand slam champions, Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza on her way into a first grand slam semi-final but Venus proved too good for the 25-year-old, coming from behind for a hard-fought 6-7 (3/7) 6-2 6-3 win.

Vandeweghe overcame a nervy start to force the first set into a tie-breaker and while a stinging backhand gave Venus a 2-1 lead, Vandeweghe struck back winning five games in a row with a backhand winner sealing a 1-0 lead against the 36-year-old.

However, the world number 35 began to slip in the second sets as two double faults from Vandeweghe gave Williams a decisive double break to force the match into a decider.

Seven-time grand slam champion Venus broke again in the opening game of the third set and despite Vandeweghe saving three match points, Venus secured victory on the fourth as she moved to just one win away from a first grand slam title in nine years.

Roger Federer is also one win away from a first grand slam title in five years as the Swiss man had to dig deep to deny compatriot Stan Wawrinka a stunning comeback in a five-set thriller.

US Open Wawrinka had fought from falling two sets behind to take the match into a deciding set but 17-time grand slam champion denied his fellow Swiss man, to reach his sixth Australian Open final with a thrilling 7-5 6-3 1-6 4-6 6-3 victory.

Roger federer's last major title came at Wimbledon in 2012 image: ausopen.com

Roger Federer’s last major title came at Wimbledon in 2012
image: ausopen.com

Former world number one Federer started brilliantly converting three early break points and despite two backhand errors to hand Wawrinka a break back, Federer responded by sealing the opening set on his opponent’s serve in the 12th game.

2014 Australian Open champion Wawrinka was broken for a second time to give Federer a 4-2 lead in the second set with a return through the baseline, while a frustrated Wawrinka cracked his racket over his knee after falling two sets behind.

However, the fourth seed came back superbly and cruised through the third set in 26 minutes and a single break point in the ninth game of the fourth set was enough for Wawrinka to superbly fight back from two sets down to force this thrilling encounter into a deciding set.

The physicality of the match began to take its toll on the 35-year-old, who needed a medical timeout to his leg, but a break point in the sixth game proved crucial in Federer’s victory, after three-time grand slam champion Wawrinka double-faulted.

Federer will play either Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov or 14-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s final with the second semi-final taking place on Friday.

More results from day 11 of the Australian Open, inclduing the latest doubles action, can be found at this link.

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