Tennis

Flustered Federer still the master

Defending champion reaches semis after Hawkeye hiccup

A momentary loss of Roger Federer's trademark cool enlivened an otherwise routine victory by the defending champion over Tomas Berdych as the Swiss player moved into the Australian Open semi-finals yesterday.

Federer's ninth successive win over the burly Czech, this time 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, 6-4, was not all smooth sailing for the 36-year-old who snapped at umpire Fergus Murphy in the first set.

His mini-rant about malfunctioning Hawkeye technology when Berdych served for the opening set said much about the struggle Federer was having to contain the 19th seed.

But in the end, all was well for Federer, who reached his record-extending 43rd Grand Slam semi-final where he will face 21-year-old South Korean sensation Chung Hyeon.

It is the 11th time Federer has reached the final four of a Slam without dropping a set and, with Rafael Nadal out of action, he is the clear favourite to win a record 20th Grand Slam title and sixth Australian Open.

The main talking point of the match came in the first set, with Berdych 15-40 down.

Federer thought a serve was out despite no call and immediately challenged. However, the usual video playback failed and Federer was told by Murphy that the serve was in.

When announcing that Federer had lost his challenge, the Swiss saw red and marched to the chair.

"Are you comfortable with this?" he said, as the crowd booed.

"You can't steal my challenge. You're okay with this?"

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Federer then dumped a forehand in the net before refocusing and taking the set into a tie-break in which he allowed Berdych one point - taking the set with a drop-shot.

Later, with his 92nd Australian Open win in the bag, the world No. 2 played down the incident.

"I hung around, got a bit lucky, a bit angry, a bit frustrated at the umpire," Federer said in the now obligatory comedy duo on-court interview with Jim Courier.

I knew the danger of Berdych. Seeing what happened to so many other top seeds here in the draw, I was a bit wary. Roger Federer, on his quarter-final win over Tomas Berdych

Federer added that Nadal's retirement in the quarter-final against Marin Cilic on Tuesday, which scuppered a repeat of last year's epic final, was playing on his mind.

"I feel that's exactly the moment when you stumble. That's why I was actually very nervous going into this match tonight, and that's why I struggled early on," he said.

"I knew the danger of Berdych. Seeing what happened to so many other top seeds here in the draw, I was a bit wary." - REUTERS

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