Former world No1 Roger Federer admits that he has surprised even himself by becoming the oldest man to reach a grand slam final for more than 40 years at the Australian Open.
The evergreen Swiss overcame compatriot Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 on Thursday to stay on course for an 18th grand slam title – almost five years after claiming his last, at Wimbledon in 2012.
At 35, Federer is the oldest man to reach a major singles final since 1974, when 39-year-old Ken Rosewall finished runner-up at the US Open.
Equally remarkably, his success in Melbourne has come in his first competition for six months, having taken the second half of last year off to treat knee and back injuries.
“I couldn’t be happier right now,” said Federer, a four-time champion in Australia whose last title came in 2010.
“Everything happened so quickly, I had to check the score after the match was over. I never felt in my wildest dreams I would be coming this far in Australia. It’s beautiful.”
Federer could meet old foe Rafael Nadal in a repeat of the 2009 final, with the resurgent Spaniard due to face 15th seed Grigor Dimitrov in the other semi-final on Friday morning.
Williams sisters to meet in final
Saturday’s women’s final will also have a familiar feel after Serena Williams, 35, and elder sister Venus, 36, set up a re-run of the 2003 decider.
Second seed Serena Williams – conqueror of Briton Johanna Konta in the previous round – ended unseeded Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni’s extraordinary run with a 6-2, 6-1 victory.
Venus Williams came from behind to beat fellow American Coco Vanderweghe 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 6-3 and reach her first grand slam final since 2009.
“I am really happy for her and to be in the final together is a dream for us,” said Serena. “She is my toughest opponent; no-one has ever beaten me as much as Venus.”