MELBOURNE: Defending champion Roger Federer zeroed in on a 20th Grand Slam title on Wednesday with Chung Hyeon next in his Australian Open firing line as dominant Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep raced into a semi-final showdown.
The clinical Swiss ace strode into the last four at Melbourne Park for a 14th time with a clinical 7-6 (7-1), 6-3, 6-4 dismantling of old foe Tomas Berdych.
Second seed Federer opted for an aggressive approach for most of the encounter, smashing 61 winners and grabbing 23 points at the net.
The 36-year-old recorded his eighth win in 10 Grand Slam meetings against Berdych and now faces Chung on Friday for a place in the final.
The 21-year-old South Korean, who ousted six-time champion Novak Djokovic in the fourth round, continued his blazing run with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 win over American Tennys Sandgren.
“I’m very excited to play Chung, I thought he played an incredible match against Novak [Djokovic],” Federer said in his on-court interview.
“Right now I couldn’t tell you how I need to play him. One thing I know is I’m going to be playing aggressive.”
Chung, ranked 58 in the world, became his nation’s first Grand Slam semi-finalist and the lowest ranked player to reach the last four at Melbourne Park since Marat Safin in 2004.
Chung hadn’t let up in upset wins over fourth sed Alexander Zverev or Djokovic, but he let his guard down in the last game against Sandgren and needed six match points to finish it off.
“In last game, I think at 40-love … if I win one more point, I make history in Korea. I have to think about the ceremony, something,” Chung said, explaining how he let his celebrations get slightly ahead of the result. “After deuce, break point. I was like, ‘No, nothing to do with ceremony. But just keep playing keep focused’.”
Germany’s Kerber, champion two years ago, swept aside Madison Keys 6-1, 6-2, easily taming the American’s big serve and will go into her clash with the world number one on a 14-match win streak.
“I’m just trying to find the feeling back I had like 2016,” said Kerber, who had a forgettable 2017 after winning not only in Australia but also the US Open in 2016.
“Madison is a hard hitter, and she served good. So I was trying to play from the first point aggressive and moving good and also bringing a lot of balls back,” she added.
Top seed Halep was equally impressive on Rod Laver Arena in thumping sixth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2, reeling off nine games in a row after going 0-3 behind in the first set.
“For sure it wasn’t my best start,” Halep said after booking her first semi-final appearance in Melbourne. “I just knew that I had to restart, actually, after three games — just to stop missing that much and to move better.”
Wednesday’s results (prefix number denotes seeding):
Quarter-finals: Chung Hyeon (South Korea) bt Tennys Sandgren (US) 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3; 2-Roger Federer (Switzerland) bt 19-Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) 7-6 (7-1), 6-3, 6-4.
Quarter-finals: 21-Angelique Kerber (Germany) bt 17-Madison Keys (US) 6-1, 6-2; 1-Simona Halep (Romania) bt 6-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) 6-3, 6-2.
Courtesy- Dawn, January 25th, 2018