Chung sets up semis clash with Federer

Chung Hyeon

MELBOURNE, (Reuters) – Defending champion Roger Federer remains on track for a 20th grand slam title after beating Czech Tomas Berdych 7-6(1) 6-3 6-4 to advance to the Australian Open semi-finals yesterday.

Second seed Federer opted for an aggressive approach for most of the encounter, smashing 61 winners and grabbing 23 points at the net.

The 36-year-old Swiss player recorded his eighth win in 10 grand slam meetings against Berdych to set up a clash with South Korea’s Chung Hyeon tomorrow.

The 21-year-old, who ousted six-time champion Novak Djokovic in the fourth round, continued his blazing run with a 6-4 7-6(5) 6-3 win over American Tennys Sandgren.

“I’m very excited to play Chung, I thought he played an incredible match against Novak (Djokovic),” Federer said in his on-court interview.

“Right now I couldn’t tell you how I need to play him. One thing I know is I’m going to be playing aggressive.”

Chung, ranked 58 in the world, became his nation’s first grand slam semi-finalist and the lowest ranked player to reach the last four at Melbourne Park since Marat Safin in 2004.

In the women’s field, world number one Simona Halep produced a sublime display to oust sixth seed Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic 6-3 6-2 in the quarter-finals.

Halep came back from an initial 3-0 deficit in the opening set, running off on a nine-game winning streak at one point to wrap up the match in just over an hour.

“For sure it wasn’t my best start,” Halep said after the match. “I just knew that I had to restart, actually, after three games — just to stop missing that much and to move better.”

Halep’s first semi-final appearance in Melbourne will be against 2016 champion Angelique Kerber, who defeated American Madison Keys 6-1 6-2 in the quarter-finals.

“She is moving well and returning the ball good in the court,” Halep said of Kerber. “I have to be strong in my legs and be calm. To start playing like I did at the end of the match and dominate the match and finish the points.”

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