Tennis

Federer, Williams sisters advance to Aussie Open finals

Roger Federer held firm against a furious fightback from fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka to reach the final on Thursday while Serena Williams is one win away from a record 23rd Grand Slam title after setting up an all-Williams final at the Australian Open against her older sister, Venus.

Federer fends off furious comeback, Serena to renew rivalry with older sister Venus

Roger Federer now has a chance for his 18th career grand slam title in the Australian Open final.

Roger Federer held firm against a furious fightback from fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka, edging his former apprentice 7-5 6-3 1-6 4-6 6-3 in a Melbourne Park classic to reach the final of the Australian Open on Thursday.

On the same day the Williams sisters booked their place in the women's final, 35-year-old Federer continued the march of the veterans, becoming the oldest man to reach a grand slam final in nearly 40 years.

The Swiss master was rattled as fourth seed Wawrinka rose up to level the match but his opponent double-faulted to hand Federer the decisive break in the sixth game.

Federer sets up a chance for his 18th grand slam title against Rafael Nadal or Grigor Dimitrov.  

"I never, ever in my wildest dream felt I was going to be coming this far in Australia and here I am. It's beautiful. I'm so happy," said Federer, who is playing in his first Grand Slam since coming back from six months off due to injury.

"I'll leave it all out here in Australia and if I can't walk for another five months, that's OK," he said.

Federer looks back on his six-month injury layoff now as a positive step to returning fully healthy and ready to compete with the top players again.

Federer's last appearance in the Australian Open final was his in 2010, when he won the tournament. 

Williams sisters to meet in final 

Serena Williams is one win away from a record 23rd Grand Slam title after setting up an all-Williams final at the Australian Open against her older sister, Venus.

No. 2-ranked Serena Williams, a six-time Australian Open winner, overwhelmed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2, 6-1 in the second of the women's semifinals after Venus Williams beat fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3.

Defeats CoCo Vandeweghe in 3 sets to become the oldest player to reach the final 1:02

"She's my toughest opponent — nobody has ever beaten me as much as Venus has," Serena Williams, 35, said. "No matter what happens, we've won. A Williams is going to win this tournament."

The 36-year-old Venus Williams is back in a Grand Slam final for the first time since Wimbledon in 2009 and her first in Australia since 2003, when she lost the only previous all-Williams final at Melbourne Park.

Venus Williams tossed her racket after clinching the 2-hour, 26-minute semifinal on her fourth match point and put her hands up to her face, almost in disbelief, before crossing her arms over her heart. She then did a stylish pirouette on the court, smiling broadly, as the crowd gave her a standing ovation.

"Everyone has their moment in the sun," Venus Williams said. "Maybe mine has gone on a while. I'd like to keep that going. I've got nothing else to do so let's keep it going."

Serena Williams' celebration was more subdued after her 50-minute, one-sided win over 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni, who was playing her first semifinal at a major since Wimbledon in 1999. Lucic-Baroni took a selfie with her cell phone on the court before waving and leaving Rod Laver Arena.

'Proud of Venus' 

Serena didn't get to watch much of her sister's match, but she knew the result before she went out to play.

"Obviously I was really proud of Venus—a total inspiration, my big sister," Serena said. "She's basically my world and my life. She means everything to me. I was so happy for her. For us both to be in the final is the biggest dream come true for us."

Venus Williams has won seven major titles, but none since Wimbledon in 2008. Her gap between major finals is the longest for any player in the Open era. She's also lost six of the eight Grand Slam finals she's played against her younger sister, and is 11-16 in career meetings.

Venus Williams is the oldest player to reach a women's major final since Martina Navratilova, then 37 and 258 days, at Wimbledon in 1994.

The 25-year-old Vandeweghe was playing in the last four at a major for the first time and was the only semifinalist younger than 34. She'd advanced with back-to-back wins over top-ranked Angelique Kerber and French Open champion Garbine Muguruza and took charge against Venus Williams in the first-set tiebreaker.

Venus Williams defeated Coco Vandeweghe 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3 to advance to the finals of the Australian Open on Thursday, in Melbourne. (Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images)

But Venus Williams rallied after dropping a set for the first time in the tournament, breaking Vandeweghe four times over the final two sets and putting pressure back on her fellow American.

Vandeweghe said earlier in the tournament she'd admired the Williams sisters as an up-and-coming player, and once asked for Venus' autograph. Venus Williams said one of the best things about her longevity in the game was having an influence on other players.

"Growing up, all I wanted was to have an opportunity to play these tournaments. But then you get here and then you have an opportunity to inspire other people," she said. "It's more than a cherry on top. It's more than I dreamed of."

Earlier, Bob and Mike Bryan earned a shot at a seventh Australian Open doubles title after a rain-interrupted 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 semifinal win Friday over Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

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