Australian Open 2018: Review Of The Quarterfinals

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Roger Federer looks set to add to his tally of five Australian Open titles and 19 Grand Slam championships after recovering from a slow start against familiar foe Tomas Berdych to set up an intriguing semi final match against 21 year Hyeon Chung of Korea. Marin Cilic of Croatia advanced on Tuesday after Rafael Nadal retired due to injury trailing 0-2 in the decisive fifth set after Briton Kyle Edmund surprised the third seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in four sets.

The Swiss superstar, seeded second, fought back after looking in grave danger of dropping his first set of the tournament to record a 7-6(1),6-3,6-4 victory on Rod Laver Arena. The nineteenth seeded Berdych took a 3-0 lead and missed out on two set point opportunities, when serving for the set at 5-3 and then on Federer’s serve at 6-5, and the Swiss maestro made him pay dearly as he extended their head to head record to 20-6.

The tie-break was won 7-1, and then Federer got the break of serve at 4-3 in the second set and 2-2 in the third set as he reached his 14th semi-final in Melbourne. The 36 year old is the oldest player to reach that stage since Australian all-time great Ken Rosewall (42 years, 68 days) in January 1977 when the tournament was played on grass courts of Kooyong Stadium.

Earlier in the day, two months after winning the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, Hyeon Chung secured yet another career breakthrough as he dismissed Tennys Sandgren of the U.S. 6-4,7-6(5),6-3 becoming the first Korean to reach the last four of a Grand Slam and also the lowest ranked man to make the Australian Open semi-finals since 86th ranked Marat Safin of Russia in 2004. A year later Safin won the Australian Open in 2005.

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Chung saved two break points in the first set and broke serve in the second game. Sandgren, who had lost their previous meeting barely a fortnight ago in Auckland, served for the set at 5-3 in the second set but failed to do so. The duo were dead even in a high quality tie-break but Sandgren framed a forehand at 5-5 before Chung gained a two set lead.

The 97th ranked Sandgren who beaten the 2014 champion Stanislas Wawrinka and fifth seeded Dominic Thiem en route his first grand slam Quarter final saved five match points before losing. Chung was playing an opponent ranked lower than him for the first time in the tournament having upset 32nd seeded Mischa Zverev, the Sydney champion Daniil Medvedev, ranked 53, fourth seeded Alexander Zverev and 14th seeded Novak Djokovic who is six time winner of the Australian Open.

On Tuesday, the 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia played inspired tennis to come back from a set and a break down, and then trailing 1-2 in sets as he overcame the 2009 champion Rafael Nadal of Spain, who retired due to an injury in the fifth set with score reading 3-6,6-3,6-7(5),6-2,2-0 after three hours and 47 minutes. The 29 year old hit 83 winners in total including a modest (by his standards) 20 aces and converted on five out of his 19 break point chances.

 Cilic staved off five break points at 2-3 in the opener, then missed a chance to break the Spaniard’s serve at 3-3. Cilic fell behind 0-40 in the next game and dropped his serve to 15. Nadal took the first set on his third set point opportunity in the 54-minute opener. In the second set Nadal took a 3-2 lead as Cilic double faulted after getting a time violation.

The Croat recovered before Nadal missed two chances for a 4-2 lead. He took the last four games to level the match one set apiece. Games went with serve in the third set and when Nadal took the tie-break he looked poised for victory. That was not to be as Nadal lost serve in the fourth game and then took tablets for a right hip complaint and also received on-court treatment. Cilic got a double break which meant he would start the deciding fifth set serving first. He would take a 2-0 lead on his sixth break point before Nadal walked to the chair umpire and called it quits.

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In the first quarter final on Tuesday, the unseeded Briton Kyle Edmund upset the World Tour Final champion Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-4,3-6,6-3,6-4. The 23 year old Brit whose previous best in grand slams was a round of sixteen appearance at the 2016 U.S. Open, becomes only the sixth British man to reach a grand slam semi final in the Open Era since 1968. He joins Roger Taylor, John Lloyd, Greg Rusedski, Tim Henman and Andy Murray.

After trading breaks in the opening set, Edmund broke once more in the ninth game and held his serve in the tenth to clinch the opener 6-4. Dimitrov, who had gallantly lost in five sets to Rafael Nadal in the last four in 2017, responded in the second set with an early break of serve. Dimitrov had 15 double faults in the entire match and Edmund who had lost to Dimitrov three weeks ago in Brisbane looked always the likely winner.

Following is the semi final line up with my pick mentioned first :-

Marin Cilic (6) v. Kyle Edmund (-) ; Cilic leads 1-0
Roger Federer (2) v. Hyeon Chung (-); first meeting.

The semi final line up in the women’s section of the draw is also completed as the top two seeds Simona Halep of Romania and Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark were joined by the 2014 champion Angelique Kerber of Germany and the unheralded Elise Mertens of Belgium. Mertens upset the fourth seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-4,6-0 in the first match on Tuesday, while Wozniacki was made to work hard by the veteran Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro before coming through 6-0,6-7(3),6-2 in the evening session match. Wozniacki, a former world number One is looking for her maiden grand slam title and next faces Mertens.

On Wednesday, the 2016 champion Angelique Kerber dropped only 3 games in her one sided 6-1,6-2 demolition of the American Madison Keys who was the runner up in New York at the U.S. Open 2017. Halep, the current world number one who is also bidding for a maiden Grand Slam title, was a 6-3,6-2 winner over Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic to set up what looks like a final before the final against Kerber.

The following is the semi final line up with my pick mentioned first :-

Angelique Kerber (21) v. Simona Halep (1); tied 4-4
Caroline Wozniacki (2) v. Elise Mertens (-); Wozniacki leads 1-0.

– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@gmail.com]

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