Roger Federer brushes past Thomas Berdych in Melbourne
17-time Grand Slam winner needed three sets to book place in Australian Open semis
Roger Federer is through to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Photograph: Epa
Federer’s last major triumph came at Wimbledon in 2012 but the world number three looked close to his brilliant best as he brushed Berdych aside to win 7-6, (7-4), 6-2, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.
It means Federer will now face either top seed Novak Djokovic or Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who play later on Tuesday, for a place in the final.
“When are they playing? Yeah, I think I’ll find some time (to watch) that,” Federer said.
“I’m very, very happy because Tomas has caused me a lot of problems over the years. He’s one of the guys who makes you a better player.
“I think I played a good match — aggressive, had some variety in there, it was quick conditions so I’m happy I came through this one.”
Berdych came out on top in the last two grand slam encounters between the pair, at the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2010, but the Czech was never really in control here and failed to take the few opportunities that came his way.
Federer’s victory should not be underestimated. Berdych has been in good form in Melbourne, knocking out Nick Kyrgios and Roberto Bautista Agut in earlier rounds, and it is a testament to the 34-year-old’s confidence that he won with so much to spare.
The pair exchanged a break each in the opening four games as Federer struggled to find his groove early on, drawing gasps from the crowd when he blazed a volley both long and wide.
He soon grew into the contest, however, and opened up a set point at 5-4 only for his opponent to produce a booming serve to hold.
Federer piled on the pressure again in the tie-break, storming 6-3 clear, and while Berdych saved the first set point he could not rescue the second as he hit the top of the net and the ball popped wide.
Buoyed by his advantage, Federer broke in the first game of the second with a sizzling backhand pass and then again for 5-2 when he lured Berdych in with a drop-shot and knocked the winner down the line.
The result now seemed like a formality but Berdych put up some resistance in the third when he broke early with a strong backhand winner, but just as in the first set he failed to consolidate as a double-fault handed the initiative straight back.
Again, Federer saved his best for the decisive moment, breaking Berdych at 5-4 with a ripping backhand, leaving only a hold of serve to seal victory in two hours and 16 minutes.