It was an easy day at the office, as they say, for Roger Federer. The Swiss probably didn’t need any help but got it in his Australian Open semifinal against Hyeon Chung who retired down 6-1, 5-2, 30-30 because of a blister.
“I’m just happy I’m in the finals, to be honest,” said Federer. “That was the goal before the match today. I was able to get there. Not under the circumstances I was hoping to or not planning with. But I played a good match. He struggled clearly with his movement. I was able to take advantage of that.
“So for me clearly it was all good. I wish him a good recovery.”
Other than his very first service game, Federer was nearly untouchable on serve under the roof – which was closed just after an early evening rain shower – while he was well into just about every return game.
Federer advanced to his 30th career Grand Slam final and seventh at the Australian Open. He has won 13 straight matches at the tournament and now stands just three sets from a 20th Slam. And he still hasn’t lost a set. Not bad for 36.
Chung, who had already dismissed 6-time champion Novak Djokovic and world No. 4 Alexander Zverev, looked lost in his first Grand Slam semifinal. And slow afoot, not even moving for some balls. He eventually called for the trained midway in the second and then retired just a few games after.
“It’s like worse than regular blisters,” his manager Stuart Duguid said. “Over the last few days, it was blister under blister under blister. He had it shaved off. Now it’s red raw. They tried injections to see if it numbed the pain. It didn’t work. Much worse than a regular blister.”
Added Federer, “I knew he was having issues with his feet going into it. But I knew he also had issues going into the match against Novak. He handled that very well. The same against Sandgren.
“I played the first set without feeling him having really that many issues, to be quite honest. I was also very focused on my own game. In the beginning, I was trying to keep the points short.
“As I realized that he was struggling, there was no need for me to push the envelope too much and take chances moving forward if I knew it was enough to be playing from the baseline against him.”
The 58th-ranked Chung will still crack the Top 30, but questions will be raised why he couldn’t continue at least another set and finish the match, much like Marin Cilic did in the Wimbledon final.
“Many things come together because I retiring in semis,” Chung said. “But I think I did right thing. If I play bad thing on the court, it’s not good for the fans and audience as well. I’m happy to be able to make semis in Grand Slam. I want to be stronger next year.
“I make first round 16, quarters and semis. I play Sascha, Novak, Roger. I really good experience in last two weeks. I think I can play better and better in the future.”
Cilic of course awaits Federer in the final on Sunday night in a rematch from London. Federer leads that series 8-1.
“Definitely think him winning the US Open, like Stan winning here a few years ago, it gave them great belief they can do it,” Federer said of the Croat. “If the big moments come about, that they can attain this level. Not easily, but they can get there from time to time.
“I think he played great against Rafa. I think the belief and the way he played very positive made him win that match because he didn’t look good there for a while when he was down a set and a break and everything.”
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