Roger Federer reaches sixth Australian Open final with win over Stan Wawrinka

MELBOURNE, Australia — Roger Federer completed the trifecta of throwback-star triumphs on a memorable night at Melbourne Park, holding off compatriot Stan Wawrinka in a wild five-set semifinal.

Coming off a commanding performance in the quarterfinals, Federer was erratic by comparison Thursday. The final score, a 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 thriller, was full of missed opportunities, mistakes and apparent gamesmanship. Still, the win sent Federer into the Australian Open final for the sixth time, a scenario that just two weeks ago seemed improbable.

“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.

Earlier in the day, Venus and Serena Williams advanced to the women’s championship, renewing an all-sibling showdown that a decade ago was mainstream at this stage of Grand Slams.

And now Federer, who awaits the winner of Friday’s match between No. 9 Rafael Nadal and No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov, has a chance to add to his record 17 Grand Slam titles.

“Yeah, it’s real now,” Federer said in his on-court interview. “I can actually talk about playing in the finals. I’ve been dodging that for the last few days.”

Now 35 years old and ranked No. 17 in the world, Federer missed the final six months of 2016 to heal the left knee he injured a day after losing in last year’s Australian Open semifinals against Novak Djokovic. Amazingly, Federer improved his hard-court record against Wawrinka, the 2016 US Open winner, to 14-0, a string of excellence in which he has lost…