MELBOURNE, Australia – Defending champion Roger Federer swept into a record 14th Australian Open semi-final with a commanding straight sets win over long-time rival Tomas Berdych on Wednesday, January 24.
The second seed cruised to a 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, 6-4 win in 2 hours and 14 minutes on Rod Laver Arena and will face unseeded South Korean Chung Hyeon on Friday, January 26, for a place in the final.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion, who hasn't lost in 5 matches against Berdych in Melbourne, will play in his 43rd Grand Slam semi-final, a record for the post-1968 Open Era.
The Swiss legend has yet to face Chung, who has got past 6-time champion Novak Djokovic and world No.4 Alexander Zverev to get to the last 4.
Federer's latest victory was his 92nd in 105 matches in Melbourne to make the Australian Open his most successful Grand Slam in terms of matches won.
"I'm happy I got out of the first set. It ended up being the key of the match," he said.
"I just tried to hang around, tried to play a bit more aggressive, get some rhythm going, because Tomas found that early."
"That's why I was under pressure. It was definitely very close, the turning point, and it ended up being for the entire match."
"I played a great breaker. Got off to a good start there. But coming back from 5-2 in the first set, it was clearly big tonight."
Federer has now won 14 out of 14 quarter-finals in Melbourne and has yet to drop a set in this year's tournament.
Looking ahead to his semi-final opponent Chung, Federer said: "He's incredibly impressive in his movement, he reminds me a lot of Novak the way he is able to slide forehand and backhand and use the hardcourt as a claycourt.
"He gets balls back and stays aggressive in defense, so I'm really excited to be playing him, he's got nothing to lose, I will tell myself the same and we'll see what happens."
Federer was broken in his opening service game and fell behind 2-5 before he broke back with a backhand in the 9th game to send the first set into a tiebreaker.
He put the foot down and careered to 5 set points before taking the tiebreaker with an audacious drop shot.
He continued to put the squeeze on the Czech and broke him in the 8th game and served out for a two sets to love lead after 90 minutes.
Both players exchanged breaks early in the 3rd set before Federer reeled off a signature backhand winner to break again in the 5th game.
He consummately served out for the match for his 20th win in 26 meetings with Berdych.
"I had a good chances, a couple of set points," Berdych said. "Then he just got more confident after he saved the first set. Then it was very difficult with him again."
Federer is coming off an extraordinary 2017, when he won a 5th Australian Open title and a record 8th at Wimbledon, after returning from an injury lay-off.
The 36-year-old is bidding to win his 20th Grand Slam title and is the oldest man to reach the semi-finals in Australia since Ken Rosewall (42 years) in 1977.
It was in Melbourne a year ago where he lit the fuse on his late-life tennis renaissance, beating Berdych, Kei Nishikori, Mischa Zverev and Stan Wawrinka before downing great rival Rafael Nadal in a 5-set final classic. – Rappler.com