Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Roger Federer passes Berdych test in straights to reach 12th Australian Open semi-final

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No. 3 seed Roger Federer booked a trip to his 12th Australian Open semi-final on Tuesday in Rod Laver Arena, simultaneously extending his record for the most final-four appearances in Melbourne in the Open Era, via a 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-4 win over Tomas Berdych on Australia Day.

“I’m very, very happy. Tomas has caused me a lot of problems over the years,” said Federer, who notched his 80th win at Melbourne Park, making the Australian Open his most successful Grand Slam in terms of matches won. “He’s one of the guys who makes you a better player. He’s beaten me on the biggest courts around the world.”

“He was playing really, really aggressive, without any mistakes, without any unforced errors,” said Berdych. “He was just too good today. I mean, that's it. That's the way that he needed to play this time. He did it, I would say, quite accurately today.”

Federer and Berdych traded breaks in the third and fourth games of the opening set. Berdych saved a set point serving at 4-5, 30/40, but the No. 6 seed couldn’t hold off Federer in the tie-break. The 17-time Slam champ carried the momentum into the second set, converting service breaks in the first and seventh games to further distance himself.

They again swapped breaks in the second and third games of the final set. But with Berdych serving at 4-all, he was broken for the fifth time, giving his opponent a chance to serve out the match in two hours and six minutes. Federer finished with 48 winners to 26 unforced errors. His aggressive attack resulted in 24 of 29 (83%) successful net points.

“I do feel really good at the net since a few years now,” said the Swiss. “It's where it all sort of started for me when I came on tour. I know how it works up there. I still think there's room for improvement. Every player manages to defend or pass it differently. The question is, do you come in off a low ball because you're being dragged in, or are you coming in on your terms? You would assume that these are not stats you can keep up. It's okay. As long as you're coming in on the right plays, it's okay to be beat.”

“I think he's still on a pretty high level, playing great tennis,” Berdych told reporters. “He's just proving how great a player he is, how difficult at this time it is to play him. To face Roger in the quarters, it's quite difficult.”

Tuesday’s quarter-final marked their seventh Grand Slam meeting, and their third at the Australian Open. Federer remains unbeaten against the 6'5'' Czech in Melbourne, including rallying from a two-set deficit in 2009. He now holds a 16-6 advantage overall in FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters.

Federer had lost their past two meetings at a major — in four sets in the quarter-finals at both Wimbledon in 2010 and the US Open in 2012.

Berdych, who was bidding to reach the semis for the third consecutive year, was also aiming for his 550thtour-level win. Just six active players have reached that milestone — Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Andy Murray and Tommy Haas. He has now lost 13 of his past 14 matches against Top-3 competition.

Federer, 34, is the oldest man to reach the semi-finals at a Grand Slam since Andre Agassi (35) at the 2005 US Open. He now awaits the winner of the Djokovic vs. Kei Nishikori blockbuster.

Big surprise, it's going to be Novak Djokovic again in their 45th meeting. I'm almost glad the match is on at night because I won't be able to watch it that late, 

I don't think I could sleep after that whatever the result. I'm just going to wake up the next day and hope for a different result.  

Getting so tired of Djokovic honestly (he's what the Williams sisters and Kim Clijster were to Martina Hingis back in the day).  

So, let's go Federer!.  Get yourself #18.

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