ROME: Swiss Roger Federer beat countryman Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2 in the Italian Open semifinal to set up his third final of the year against Serbian rival Novak Djokovic.
Wawrinka had caused the first major upset of the week when he battled Rafael Nadal throughout a thrilling quarterfinal on Friday (Saturday in Manila) to send the seven-time Rome champion crashing out.
But despite a blistering start which saw Wawrinka race to a 3-0 lead in the opening set, the 30-year-old from Lausanne appeared to pay for his efforts late into the night at the Foro Italico.
Federer bounced back from losing the early break to break back twice on his way to sealing the first set 6-4.
Wawrinka was even more out of sorts in the second set, unforced errors steadily creeping into his game as Federer eased into his stride and reached a stage where he was able to pick his shots comfortably.
Federer, bidding for his maiden title in Rome having lost three finals—two to Nadal—earned three break points in the third game of the second set and won the game when Wawrinka attempted a wild half-volley from a tight angle which he netted.
Federer moved 3-1 up on his next service game and broke his fellow Swiss again for a 4-1 lead before wrapping up the set.
“I was happy with how I played, I was able to impose my game. Basically rock solid from the moment I got my game down,” said Federer.
So far this year it’s one apiece between Djokovic and Federer, the former winning their last final at Indian Wells to make amends for Federer’s win in Dubai.
Career-wise, Federer holds the advantage with 20 wins to Djokovic’s 18, although the Serb has shown glimpses of brilliance this week and a variety of shots that put all of his rivals in trouble.
Having lost twice in Rome to Djokovic in the semi-finals, Federer admitted he will have to be at his best on what will be their first clay final of the year.
“I’ve done fairly well against him in the past,” added Federer.
“It’s up to me to put in a really good performance.”