Yawn. Roger Federer won. Again. Without dropping a set.
Things did get interesting for a brief while at Melbourne Park when Tomas Berdych broke him early and raced to a 3-0 lead, but once Federer broke back and won the first set, it was one-way traffic.
The other favourites for the day, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep, too advanced to the semi-final with easy, straight-set wins.
Amidst all this, Hyeon Chung, from South Korea, continued his fairytale runs by ending Tennys Sandgren’s.
The Big News
Federer charges into record 14th semi-final
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.
The second seed cruised to a 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, 6-4 win in 2hr 14min on Rod Laver Arena and will face unseeded South Korean Chung Hyeon on Friday for a place in the final.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion, who hasn’t lost in five matches against Berdych in Melbourne, will play in his 43rd Grand Slam semi-final, a record for the Open Era.
History-making Chung gets to the semis
Hyeon Chung became the first South Korean to reach a Grand Slam semi-final and the lowest-ranked player in 14 years to get to the last four at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
Ranked 58, he needed six match points before completing a clear-cut 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 win over unseeded American Tennys Sandgren on Rod Laver Arena in 2hr 28min.
In beating Sandgren, Chung, 21, became the first man or woman from his country to make the last four of a Grand Slam and the lowest-ranked men’s semi-finalist in Melbourne since Russia’s Marat Safin (No.86) in 2004.
Halep overturns a 0-3 deficit to win in straight sets
Top seed Simona Halep was impressive 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.
Keys, a 2017 US Open finalist, struggled badly throughout, winning only 18 of 46 points on her serve.
Halep said: “It wasn’t my best start but I knew I had to restart and move better, which I did in the end.”
Looking ahead to Thursday’s semi-final, Halep said: “It will be a different challenge against Angelique Kerber. I have to be ready, be calm and try to dominate the match.
“I’m not thinking about the result. I just want to play my best.”
Kerber crushes Keys
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.
Kerber, who won the title in 2016, is in scintillating form after an unbeaten singles campaign in the Hopman Cup and her triumph in the Sydney International warm-up.
Keys was expected to be a stiff challenge, having not dropped a set en route to the quarters, but she melted under the German’s relentless groundstrokes and pinpoint return of serve.
“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.
Shot of the day
From the sidelines
Sleeveless? No way, says Roger
Do you know why Roger Federer doesn’t wear sleeveless unlike the big muscled Rafael Nadal?
It’s because he doesn’t have big muscles like Rafael Nadal.
“That’s never going to happen because you know why. My arms are not like his arms!” he told Jim Courier in another fun on-court interview.
Quizzed about the shades of pink in his attire for the tournament, Federer joked: “The designing part is fun. They asked me if I liked this kind of colour and I said yes. A lot of guys are playing in pink and it’s because I had something to do with it!”
‘You dehumanize with pen and paper’
American Sandgren lashed out at the media for “demonising” him to create a “sensationalist” coverage.
Sandgren was asked about his social media following after his fourth-round match on Monday. He’d denied supporting the US ‘alt-right’ movement, saying he merely found “some of the content interesting”.
Despite insisting that whom he chose to follow on social media did not represent his views, Sandgren then deleted most of his Twitter postings.
First Slam, first Korean in semi-final, and now, first Tweet
Ladies and gents, please welcome our new wonderboy from South Korea, Hyeon Chung, to Twitter. The bespectacled 21-year-old made his Twitter debut on Thursday with this one:
Hopefully, there are many more tweets to come. And, looking at the way he plays, looks like there are many more wins to come, too. But in his next match he will face a Swiss who’s probably better than than the mountains, chocolates and cheese of his country.
“Chilling, doing nothing. I will be in my room watching tennis. I will watch Roger again. A little bit of treatment.”
-Simona Halep, on what she’ll do in the 18 hours after her quarter-final win.
“I don’t know. Maybe he has couple more gray hair.”
–Tomas Berdych, when asked to spot the changes in Roger Federer this year from last year.
“I think the same. I think 50/50.”
–Hyeon Chung on what he finds tougher to improve: his tennis or his English.
“I’m glad you like it. It’s important to my sleep tonight that, when I close my eyes, Jim approves my look.”
–Roger Federer takes a dig at Jim Courier during their on-court interview, when the latter appreciated the world No 2’s fashion sense.