Melbourne Park, 20 December 2012 | James Bett

No.1 seed Macsen Sisam (NZ) has progressed to the final of the Optus 12s Australian Championships after downing No.4 seed Stefan Norodom (SA) in a taxing three-set semifinal 6-2 6-7(4) 7-5.

After two and a half hours on court, Sisam said he was thrilled to get through but was slightly surprised to have made it this far.

“I’m pretty surprised that I was given the No.1 seed and we mainly came over to see how good the Australians are so I’m very surprised to have made it this far,” he said.

“It was really tough because (Norodom) got a lot of balls back and so it was mentally tough for me not to go for it too much and physically it was really draining as well.”

The two players came into the match with vastly opposing styles — Norodom an exceptional defender while Sisam the perennial attacker — which provided a fantastic contest. Sisam gave his all to break through while the South Australian, resilient to the last, made his Kiwi opponent play the extra ball.

Sisam came out firing, grabbing the opener 6-2 and stamping his authority on the match with a host of powerful forehands. He was quick to pounce on anything short, hitting the ball flat and hard both cross court and down the line.

The second set was much more of a grind which suited Norodom, who made Sisan play the extra ball and wore him down physically. Both players had opportunities to consolidate breaks but were unable to convert, taking the set into a tiebreak.

Up 3-2 with a mini break, Sisam again looked to be in control and seemed destined for a straight-sets win until the nuggetty South Australian won five of the next six points to steal the set and send the match into a decider.  

Signs of fatigue were becoming noticeable for both players with the arduous first two sets increasing the number of errors in the third. Both players’ serves were broken in every game of the final set bar the last.

Sisam served for the match at 5-4 but couldn’t grasp his opportunity, having a match point chance at 40-30 but failing to deliver the knockout blow.

Fortunately for the Kiwi he was given another opening at 6-5 to serve for the match and on his fifth match point he was finally able to break through, claiming the decider 7-5 and booking his spot in the final.

Sisam will meet third seed Alexander Crnokrak (QLD) in the grand finale, who also had a tough three-set semifinal 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. Given the Queenslander spent two hours and 12 minutes on court, there will be no clear physical advantage leading into tomorrow’s final, the winner to be crowned champion of the Optus 12s Australian Championships.