Roger Federer is into his 14th Australian Open Semi Final after fighting off a blistering start from Tomas Berdych to defeat the Czech 7-6(1), 6-3, 6-4 in 2 hours and 15 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Berdych, who'd looked in fine form so far in the tournament took a 3-0 lead and missed out on two set points in the opener at 5-3 and 6-5 , only for Roger to hit back and snatch the first set on a breaker before running away with the match to set up a tie against Hyeon Chung in Friday's Semi-Final.
Quick Match Recap
Berdych kicked off proceedings with a hold to 30 and immediately snatched the initiative, breaking for a 2-0 lead thanks to some crisp hitting and Roger looking off the pace.
Berdych consolidated to love for 3-0 to take full control. In game five Roger began to slowly find his feet but a botched routine volley that would have given him a breakpoint allowed Berdych to keep his advantage and lead 4-1.
With the Czech's easy power dictating play from the baseline, it looked as though the first set was his as he moved into a 5-2 lead but he was unable to serve it out. Finally losing a lengthy dramatic service game that featured a successful challenge to prevent a double fault that would have been 0-30, a drop shot that clipped the net cord to save a break point, an unsuccessful challenge off a first serve from Federer that got the Swiss in an argument with Fergus Murphy as the big screen wasn't working and a set point saved. Honestly it had a bit of everything but Roger managed to channel some of the anger and frustration to break and then level at 5-5.
Berdych then shrugged off the loss of serve with a love hold for 6-5 and held his second set point after Roger double faulted at 30-30. The Swiss saved it and we went into a tie break.
Into the breaker and Roger got off to a great start, moving up a mini-break on the very first point with a passing shot that just landed in. That was soon 3-0 and a further mini break plus two holds put Fed up 6-1 before he sealed it with a dreamy drop shot. An absolute steal of a first set 🙂
Dropping the opener was a huge kick in the balls to Berdych but he started set two with more crisp hitting that gave him his early success in the opening set, holding a break point in game three only to see Roger, who'd now firmly found his rhythm, reel off a majestic backhand down the line to save it. The pair then exchanged two holds each and in game eight Roger made his move, hitting another sweet backhand to set up 0-30 en route to breaking to 15. He then served out the set to 15 to take it 6-3.
At the sit down Berdych received an off-court medical timeout for what appeared to be a leg issue. Upon his return he held to 15 but in game three he dropped serve for 2-1. With Berdych now looking hampered Roger's work appeared virtually done but he could not consolidate as Berdych leveled at 2-2. Fortunately the Swiss hit back immediately, using the drop shot to great effect as he broke again aided by another slick backhand down the line. This time he consolidated to love for 4-2 and was able to coast over the line, serving out the match to love to take it 6-4.
|First serve % in||56||63|
|Win % in 1st serve||70% (37/53)||83% (50/60)|
|Win % in 2nd serve||5121/41||53% (9/36)|
|Break points won %||40% (2/5)||50% (4/8)|
|Net Points Won||46% (11/24)||74% (23/31)|
|Total points won||85||105|
|Average serve speed||205kmh||199kmh|
Thoughts on the Match
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. I played a great breaker. Got off to a good start there. But coming back from 5-2 in the first set, it was clearly big tonight.
Boom! A mightily impressive win from Roger here who started slowly but used all his experience to claw his way back into things and win the opening set when he had no real business to do so. I said in my preview hopefully when he needs to step on the gas there's a response and although it wasn't instant he got going eventually and was like a freight train thereafter.
Yes he got a bit lucky and Berdych played a little too conservatively (or predictably) on his set point at 5-3 but Fed is such an underrated competitor. He showed a great deal of composure/ability to stick around even when he was a little hot under the collar due to the being behind in the score and Hawkeye not showing on the screen incident. But he got the break and steamrolled the tiebreak to win the first set which was the key to the match.
Once he had the lead he was able to really start flowing from the baseline and get Berdych moving around which is exactly what he wants to be doing. Some of the drop shots left Berdych reeling and when Roger is taking it early Tomas just has no real idea which direction the ball is going.
The third was fairly one-way traffic with Berdych clearly struggling with his movement but you have to say Fed had a hand in the injury by running him ragged in that second set; he was forced to cover some serious ground from left to right and chase down drop shot after drop shot which at a listed 92kg is not his game.
Predictions vs. Chung
Next up is Hyeon Chung who defeated Tennys Sandgren in straight sets to continue his dream run. Sandgren was up 5-3 in the second set so probably should have made more of a fist of things but unfortunately, his preparation for the match involved fighting off a media hit job and character assassination from a bunch of social media moral grandstanders which is a shame as I imagine it affected his overall performance.
As for Chung, I've seen very little of him but I did catch a bit of his match vs. Novak and he's got ridiculous defensive skills. He's almost like a bulkier version of Djokovic (his legs are like tree trunks) and is able to get great purchase on the ball at full stretch. His serve is an obvious weak point so I'm excited to see how this matchup plays out. Roger's serve is going to be under pressure too as Chung returns well and you'd imagine Fed is going to really go after Chung's second serve so I'm expecting a few breaks. Fed's obviously going to try to play ultra aggressive like he's done against Djokovic in the past and I make him the firm favourite. Chung's problem is that he will have never played anyone who plays like Federer, whereas Roger has seen the Korean's offering many times over. May the best man win. Allez!
As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments!