A return to the Australian Open semi finals for the GOAT as he defeated Tomas Berdych 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-4 to make his 12th appearance in the last 4 in Melbourne. After winning the all important first set on a tie break the Swiss kept his foot on the gas to run away with the second set, recovered a break in the third and went onto take it 6-4 in 2 hours and 16 minutes.
It wasn't a vintage Federer performance as we saw vs. Goffin but an extremely solid one – 48 winners to 26 unforced errors and he won 24 of 29 (83%) net points to keep Berdych on the back foot throughout.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to serve; he held to 15 to kick things off. Berdych levelled and in game 3 the Czech broke after a sloppy service game from Federer whose first serve went missing. Fortunately Roger hit straight back, taking advantage of a badly timed Berdych double fault and stepping up the aggression to restore parity at 2-2.
Roger then held for 3-2 before Berdych came through a marathon service game, fending off multiple deuces to level for 3-3. The Czech found himself in more trouble at 4-5, having to save a set point before holding. Both players exchanged holds to move into a tie break.
Into the breaker and Roger pulled off a sweet pickup on a shanked Berdych return on the all important first point. That small lead gave him the momentum required, moving up a mini break early, hitting a dreamy backhand up the line for 4-1 before finally taking it 7-4.
Set 2 saw Fed get off to a flyer, breaking instantly and consolidating for a 2-0 lead. The Swiss then held comfortably in his next two service games to lead 4-2 and secured the double break for 5-2. He served out the set to 15 to take it 6-2.
With Berdych looking lumbered and the hard work done set 3 looked like it would be a formality, of course though Roger went down an early break to fall 2-0 behind 🙂 Like the first set he recovered it instantly and held to love for 2-2. At 4-4 Berdych slipped to 0-40 but saved all 3 break points, the third on a successful challenge to overturn a call. Three deuces later saw Fed have his fourth break point of the game which he converted to take a 5-4 lead. Serving it out was no issue and he did so to 15 to book his spot in the semi finals.
|Stats||Roger Federer||Tomas Berdych|
|1st serves in||60/87 (69 %)||60/111 (54 %)|
|1st serve points won||50/60 (83 %)||41/60 (68 %)|
|2nd serve points won||13/27 (48 %)||24/51 (47 %)|
|Fastest serve||206 KMH||217 KMH|
|Average 1st serve speed||187 KMH||200 KMH|
|Average 2nd serve speed||158 KMH||156 KMH|
|Net points won||24/29 (83 %)||9/25 (36 %)|
|Break points won||5/10 (50 %)||2/6 (33 %)|
|Receiving points won||46/111 (41 %)||24/87 (28 %)|
|Total points won||109||89|
|Distance Covered (M)||1941.1||1963.2|
|Dist. Covered/Pt. (M)||9.8||9.9|
Thoughts on the Match
Another impressive display from Roger here, nothing like the Goffin match where he was floating over the court but tactically spot on and he won the vast majority of the big points to get it done. A few slight mishaps where he went lost serve at what could have been costly moments but Berdych wasn't playing well enough to take full advantage and he gave up the breaks when Roger applied some pressure.
For the most part though Roger's serve was again clutch, winning 83% behind it and finding the lines at just the right times. The forehand offered plenty too and allowed him to take control of the baseline despite Berdych's raw power. The backhand was a bit of a liability though in this one, aside from that sweet ripper in the tie break and there no real knee bend on most of them which ended up dumped in the net.
As for Berdych the first set seemed to drain him – he had played a 5 setter the round previous and by the end of things he wasn't coping well with some of the lower bouncing stuff. Overall he played reasonably well though to go up a break in 2 sets but wasn't able to play enough points on his terms. Once Roger had established the 1 set lead and set the tone for how the match would be played he was never in the running.
Predictions vs. Djokovic
Next up is of course Djokovic who comfortably defeated a poor Nishikori in straight sets. Not the highest quality from either player but Kei has such a weak serve that he will always struggle against a premier returner like Djokovic regardless of how good or bad Novak plays if the points play out. I only saw a handful of the match but Kei looked pretty defeated out there early on and his record of late against the real elite isn't anything to write home about.
Into the semi final then and it's always tough to predict a match between these two, the H2H is 22-22 but it's Djokovic who has the edge both in Australia and in their recent slam meetings so he goes in as the big favourite. Roger hasn't taken a set off him on Plexicushion and he's lost their last 3 slam meetings (Wimbledon x 2 and USO), all finals. Many of you guys have been pushing for a semi final meeting between the two and that's finally happening so it will be interesting to see if that theory of it being a better time to play the Djoker has any substance to it.
From what I've seen so far Djokovic is operating like usual – looking a little laboured in some of his matches but still winning and ready to peak at just the right time. If that is the case then Roger will need to deliver a first rate performance to stand any sort of chance. Maybe Ljubicic and Fed have a gameplan ready to give a try which is surely worth a shot. Those 3 slams finals Roger lost have boiled down to just a few points here or there – so what can he do, if anything, to buck that trend and come out on the good side? Hopefully we find out 🙂
I'm expecting a close match and Roger promised a SABR so I at least expect him to deliver on that promise. Live Chat will be on as usual. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.