It will be a collision between familiar foes when Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych battle for a spot in the Australian Open semifinals on Tuesday. The two veterans have already faced each other on 21 previous occasions, with the head-to-head series standing at 15-6 in favor of Federer. Six of their previous showdowns have come at Grand Slams, although none since the 2012 U.S. Open–where Berdych pulled off a 7-6(1), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 upset. Federer is 2-0 at his opponent’s expense Down Under, having prevailed in straight sets in 2008 and in five one season later.
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Fast forward seven years since that 2009 Melbourne encounter and both players are still going strong. Federer registers at No. 3 in the world and finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic twice in majors last year. The 34-year-old Swiss is through the quarters of this event thanks to defeats of Nikoloz Basilashvili, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Grigor Dimitrov, and David Goffin, dropping just one set to Dimitrov along the way. Berdych, ranked sixth, has now reached at least the Aussie Open quarterfinals on six consecutive occasions. So far this fortnight he has defeated Yuki Bhambri, Mirza Basic, Nick Kyrgios, and Roberto Bautista Agut. But Kyrgios took one set and Bautista Agut pushed Berdych to five.
“I have to play well,” Federer commented. “I think the court suits him. I think this sort of flatter bounce and faster court is good for his serves, good for his returns. It’s a fast court. It’s going to be a good match. We’re both going to play aggressive; this court pays off when you do play good and aggressive tennis.”
“It’s always difficult to say something else or something new,” the sixth-ranked Czech said when asked about going up against Federer. “I mean, it’s Roger.”
Yes, unfortunately for Berdych it is–in fact–Federer. The former world No. 1 is a 17-time major champion and he has won this tournament four times. Federer may not be in the prime of his career, but he has improved drastically since his well-documented 2013 slump. The fact that Berdych is coming off a five-setter will not help the underdog.
Prediction – Federer in four sets