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Federer eases into semi-finals of Australian Open

Federer is looking to defend his Australian Open title. Credit: PA

Roger Federer maintained his record of never having lost an Australian Open quarter-final by beating Tomas Berdych in Melbourne for the third consecutive year.

The defending champion was a straight-sets winner over his Czech rival in the quarter-finals in 2016 and the third round last year, and it was the same again here as Federer won 7-6 (7/1) 6-3 6-4 to set up a clash with exciting young Korean Chung Hyeon.

Things might have been different had Berdych converted his fine start into the opening set, as he probably should have.

The Czech raced into a 3-0 lead and served for it at 5-3. Federer was unhappy with a Hawk-Eye challenge that was not shown on screen because of a technical malfunction and had a long and testy conversation with the umpire.

But being fired up helped the 36-year-old, who saved a set point, broke back and then saved a second set point in the following game.

Once he raced through the tie-break, there only looked like being one winner and he wrapped up victory after two hours and 14 minutes, maintaining his record of not having dropped a set all tournament.

It is the eighth time he has beaten Berdych out of 10 slam meetings and a ninth consecutive victory overall against the Czech, who has arguably suffered most of all from the dominance of the 'big four'.

Federer's career statistics continue to get more remarkable, with 2015 the only time since 2003 that he has failed to reach the last four in Melbourne.

He said of the first set: "I hung around, had to get a bit lucky, a bit angry, a bit frustrated maybe but I actually thought the call was good anyway. It's all good. I'm very happy I got out of that first set, it ended up being the key to the match. Tomas played great. I stole that one a little bit."


Federer begins Australian Open title defence with win

Roger Federer began the defence of his Australian Open title with a routine victory over Aljaz Bedene. Credit: PA

Roger Federer began the defence of his Australian Open title with a routine victory over Aljaz Bedene on Rod Laver Arena.

Having arrived in Melbourne 12 months ago not knowing what to expect from himself following a six-month break to recuperate his knee, this time around Federer is confident in both mind and body.

He did not crush Bedene, back representing Slovenia following his nearly three years as a British player, but one break in the first two sets and two in the third proved enough for a 6-3 6-4 6-3 victory lasting an hour and 39 minutes.

Bedene created two chances on the Federer serve but could not take either and the second seed still had several gears to go as he cantered over the finish line.

Federer wins opening game of the ATP Finals

Federer won in straight sets. Credit: PA

Roger Federer's comeback year looks set for a final flourish as he began his bid for a record-stretching seventh ATP Finals crown with a comfortable win over Jack Sock. The 36-year-old beat American Sock 6-4 7-6 (7/4) in an hour and a half.

He hit 28 winners without offering Sock a single break point and while the 19-time major champion was not as clinical in the second set as he might have been, victory was never really in doubt.

Sock, making his first appearance here and yet to go further than the fourth round at a grand slam, took a while to find his rhythm and Federer pounced with a break in the very first game.

A punching backhand winner was followed by a dipping forehand to Sock's feet before another singing backhand gave Federer the early initiative.

Sock gradually settled his nerves as the set wore on and he had a sniff of a break back at 3-2 but a Federer ace and then a brilliantly picked up half-volley averted the danger.

Sock held serve for 5-3 in the strangest of fashions after he turned away and ducked his head to allow his opponent the entire court to finish off a short forehand. Instead, Federer lashed it into the net before both players shared a sheepish smile.

Federer was less generous moments later as an ace secured the set but Sock maintained momentum in the second frame, which was tighter than the first.

Sock had to fight hard to keep it close, defending five Federer break points, including two at 4-4, to force a tie-break. A disgruntled Federer pulled 4-2 clear but again Sock came back, with a successful challenge to make it 4-4.

Sock blinked at the crucial moment, however, as a double fault put Federer back in charge and he converted his first match point when a Sock forehand dropped long.

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