Roger Federer is now just two matches away from defending his Australian Open title in what would be the 20th Grand Slam victory of his career. With Rafael Nadal out, he is even more strongly favoured to win. He plays the Korean Hyeon Chung in the semi-final, already knowing whether it will be Marin Cilic or Kyle Edmund awaiting him on Sunday.
Chung has gained many new fans over the past fortnight with his performances. Outlasting Alexander Zverev was a sign of things to come as he backed that up with a stunning performance to beat his idol Novak Djokovic at his own game in round four. It was a fairly routine win for him in the quarters over Tennys Sandgren aside from a nervy attempt at serving out that saw him need 5 tries at converting match point. “Today’s match was really tough because we played at 1:00. We know how to play each other. We played last week in Auckland. But I’m just trying to keep focus on the court and enjoy.” he said afterwards.
Federer did get pushed a bit further in his quarter final win but it went the same way as all the rest, ending in straight sets. He would have to fight to stay in the set though, coming back from 5-2 down and saving 2 set points before crushing then Czech in the tiebreaker. “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.” Federer said on the first set.
Berdych only broke once for the rest of match, doing so when down a break in the third – only to hand it right back after. Federer extended his lengthy winning streak with the minimum fuss and so won’t go into his semi final with any physical troubles.
Federer was highly complimentary of his opponent and won’t be underestimating the threat of Chung despite his current lowly ranking. “To bounce back from a Novak match and just somehow get it done today, this afternoon, that’s tough. That shows that he’s had good composure, a great mindset. Also physically he must have recovered because Novak is going to give you a bit of a workout.” he said. It may well turn out to be a step too far for the Korean but his performances this tournament bode well for both his future and that of the men’s game in general.
Prediction – Roger Federer in four sets