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Wawrinka Battles To Berdych Victory

Madrid, Spain

Wawrinka© AFP/Getty ImagesStanislas Wawrinka will return to the Top 10 after reaching the Madrid final.

Stanislas Wawrinka will return to the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings after reaching the final of the Mutua Madrid Open on Saturday. The Swiss battled from a break down in the final set to defeat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in just under two hours.

Playing for his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, the 15th-seeded Wawrinka will face Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s final. The Swiss will need to overturn a 0-8 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against the Spaniard, though, with three of those defeats coming on clay.

"Rafa is the best player on clay.  He's such an amazing player, he is really tough to beat, especially on clay," said the right-hander. "For me, it's the ultimate challenge to play him in final in Masters 1000 in Spain.  That's something amazing, and I cannot dream for a better final."

Wawrinka exports support from the Spanish crowd on Sunday to be entirely behind Nadal. "For sure it's going to be 100%, except my coach," he smiled. "After [a] great tournament, to play Rafa on clay, it's something amazing, and I'm going to take that challenge and try to play my best game tomorrow."

Wawrinka goes into the final on a nine-match winning streak, having won his seventh ATP World Tour title last week at the Portugal Open in Oeiras (d. Ferrer). Regardless of the final result, he will return to the Top 10 for the first time since 2008, when he reached a career-high World No. 9.

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The Lausanne native will contest his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final, after finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the 2008 Internazionali BNL d’Italia final in Rome.

Wawrinka, who has a 25-8 match record in 2013, capitalised on several Berdych errors in the first set of their 11th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Wawrinka broke serve two times to win the set 6-3. Berdych turned the match in his favour, though, with a service break at 4-4 in the second set and won the set with a hold to love. He lost just two points in his five service games. 

"Tomas is a tough player to beat, he was serving really good, putting a lot of pressure [on me]," said Wawrinka. "Down 4‑2, [with] two break points to save...I was saying to myself that I should do everything to win that game, to put pressure on him. I know that sometimes if you show him that you're going to be there again and again, sometimes [he'll] make a mistake," explained the Swiss, who said the played more aggressively from that moment.

Wawrinka added that growing up playing on clay in Switzerland means it's the surface he feels most comfortable on, and though he has an all-round game, the red earth is still his favourite. "Every time I come back to the clay, I feel that it's still the best surface for me."

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The Czech took a commanding lead in the third set, breaking in the fifth game and earning two opportunities for a double break at 2-4, 15/40 on Wawrinka’s serve. However, Berdych was unable to convert and then paid the price for missed first serves as the Wawrinka drew back level in the eighth game. Wawrinka capitalised on his momentum, breaking Berdych to 30 in the 10th game to clinch victory.

Berdych was bidding to reach the Madrid final for the second year in a row, having finished runner-up last year to Roger Federer.

"It was actually the worst four games I played in the match [from 4-2 up in the third set]," admitted Berdych. "That was the result. I mean, I really have no excuse for that. It was just bad play from me. That's it. This is a huge chance that when you have that you cannot lose that. That was really bad play from me."

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