Stan Wawrinka’s edge-of-your-seat upset of defending champion Novak Djokovic was enough to get Roger Federer fist-pumping and on his feet, glued to the telecast from his hotel room on Tuesday night.
Now, there’s every chance his Swiss countryman returned the favour on Wednesday night after Federer derailed Andy Murray’s Australian Open campaign 6-3 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena, setting up a semifinal blockbuster with Rafael Nadal on Friday night.
It will be the 33rd instalment in the Federer v Nadal rivalry – the Spaniard leads 22-10 – and will mark their first Grand Slam encounter since Nadal beat him in four sets at the same stage in Melbourne two years ago.
“This one feels different because of the tougher times I've had in slams; Wimbledon, at the US Open. It's nice to be back in the semis and defend my points from last year. Not that it matters at my age,” the 32-year-old Federer said after advancing to the semifinal stage in Melbourne for the 11th year in succession.
“Plus what I really love is another Swiss is in the semis as well. It's the first time in history. So that's a big deal. I was really happy for Stan last night, because he's been putting in an amazing effort for the last years and didn't always get compensated. That's the big news for me.
“For me, it's as well a dream run, and I hope I can keep it up against Rafa.”
Federer baulked at envisaging a first all-Swiss Australian Open final, admitting both would be on the same flight back to Switzerland if they dared think too far ahead.
First he would have to find a way past the man to have denied him in big matches more than any other player. Wawrinka, for his part, would have to hold his nerve against Czech Tomas Berdych.
“It's nice seeing it turning around for him. And for me, yeah, I hope I can make it to the finals. Clearly when you're in the semis you start dreaming. There's no doubt about that,” Federer said.
It appears, not even Federer, on the eve of his own quarterfinal showdown, could turn the television off when Wawrinka and Djokovic raised the stakes in their five-set battle.
“At the end I was standing up, hands in the air like him. That's what it was, you know,” he said. “When he wins big points, yeah, I guess you do fist pump. I high-five with Mirka. So it was good fun last night. We watched the entire fifth set together.”
The sixth seed came into his 21st meeting with Murray on Wednesday night without the loss of a set in Grand Slam play under the tutelage of Swedish great Stefan Edberg.
Their first event together included the 17-time Grand Slam champion’s surprisingly convincing dismissal of Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the previous round, while fourth seed Murray was contesting his first major since back surgery last year.
The Scot came into the match having won 11 of their 20 previous encounters, but Federer had won most where it counts, in the slams; a 3-1 ledger in his favour.
With a new racquet, a new coach and a new baby on the way, the rejuvenated Swiss had a fresh spring in his typically relaxed swagger and was on the attack throughout the first three sets.
Serving for the match at 5-4, however, he would drop serve for the first time all night and would go on to let two match points slip in the tiebreak; Murray back from the wilderness to deny a repeat scoreline of their Australian Open 2010 final, which the Swiss had won 6-3 6-4 7-6.
“The thing was not only that I served for it, but I had 6-4, 5-2 in the breaker … There's so many things I could have maybe done better. Maybe got slightly passive,” he said of the third-set loss.
“I could sense that, you know, he was struggling shortly after that. But then again, you don't know how serious is it. Is he just doing it now and he's going to be OK later when it matters?”
When it mattered, Federer stepped up, breaking for 5-3 in the fourth before sealing the result with an ace.
Don’t expect to see Federer and Wawrinka on the next flight back home just yet.
They’ll leave the fist-pumping and high fives to their countrymen back home should they both reach Sunday’s decider.