The defending Australian Open Champion Roger Federer (SUI) had a tough first set against former Grand Slam finalist Tomas Berdych (CZE). The Czech was leading 5-3 before an uncharacteristically irritated Federer had a tense exchange with the chair umpire. This seemed to focus Federer’s aggression into his game, and he took the first set despite Berdych not really having done much wrong. Federer was all business in the second and third sets, closing out the match in 2 hours and 14 minutes. It must be frustrating to be Tomas Berdych. The head to head now reads 20-6 in Federer’s favour and you have to go back to the Dubai Masters 2013 to find a Berdych victory, and the last time the Czech took a set from the 5 time Australian Open Champion. Berdych will take heart that he didn’t fade away as he has done in previous matches, and played great tennis until the very end.
Federer’s opponent will be the NextGen final winner Hyeon Chung (KOR) who made it through to his first ever Grand Slam Semi-Final in straight sets, dispatching controversial character Tennys Sandgren (USA). Chung, who is being hailed as a successor to Djokovic, had a shaky start as it looked like the occasion might get the better of him, however he gathered himself and it was soon clear he was a class above Sandgren.
Former Australian Open Champion Angelique Kerber (GER) made short work of US Open finalist Madison Keys (USA) who it’s fair to say did not show up to the match. In just 53 minutes Kerber managed to keep her concentration to win, despite the strange energy on the other side of the net. Keys appeared uncomfortable, like the Quarter-Final of the Australian Open against the former Champion was the last place on Earth she wanted to be, despite her choice of career. This was made clear as the usual rituals of putting racquets and towels into bags and waving to the crowd were dispensed with. Keys, looking like she hadn’t even unpacked her bag, grabbed her things and disappeared so fast the cameras nearly didn’t catch her. A terrible blow after her US Open final defeat in much the same manner.
Kerber will play the number 1 seed Simona Halep (ROU) who came through in similar fashion to the German against 6th seed Karolina Pliskova (CZE). After a slow start, Halep won 9 games on the trot. Pliskova’s main weapon, her serve, was being belted back by Halep, who’s incredible defensive tennis forced Pliskova to play just one too many shots in each rally. Pliskova’s belief faded as Halep became an impenetrable wall. Kerber vs Halep is expected to be a brutal affair, both playing a similar style of tennis at the highest level. Expect long rallies, quality ball striking and high drama.