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Federer cruises past Dimitrov to claim Rotterdam title

Roger Federer celebrated his return to the top of the world rankings with his second title of the season, swatting aside Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the ABN AMRO World Tournament in Rotterdam.

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Federer becomes oldest ATP World No.1

Roger Federer guaranteed his return to No.1 in the ATP Rankings after beating Dutchman Robin Haase 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 to reach the semi-finals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

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Federer beats Cilic to win 20th Grand Slam

Roger Federer added another chapter to his phenomenal career when the Swiss captured his 20th Grand Slam to retain his Australian Open title with a thrilling 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Marin Cilic in the final.

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Federer beats Del Potro for eighth Basel title

Roger Federer won his eighth Basel title, battling back to defeat the surging Juan Martin del Potro, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 to clinch his ATP World Tour-leading seventh title of the year.

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Federer crushed Nadal to win Shanghai Masters

Roger Federer was at his ruthless best, streaking to the Shanghai Rolex Masters title with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal. Its his 27th Masters title and second in Shanghai.

Federer cruises past Dimitrov to claim Rotterdam title

Roger Federer celebrated his return to the top of the world rankings with his second title of the season, swatting aside Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the ABN AMRO World Tournament in Rotterdam on Sunday.

Federer, 36, who guaranteed becoming the oldest ever ATP world number one by reaching the semi-final, had won all six of his previous meetings with Dimitrov and was in command throughout Sunday's 55-minute final.

He broke the Bulgarian opponent early in the contest and cruised to a one-set lead at the Ahoy Rotterdam. Putting Dimitrov under heavy pressure throughout the championship clash, he fired 15 winners and converted four of eight break chances.

Playing flawless tennis, the 20-times major winner carried the momentum forward in the second set to seal a 97th career title and third in Rotterdam having won in 2005 defeating his current coach Ivan Ljubicic, and in 2012 with victory over Juan Martin del Potro.

"It's definitely one of those weeks I will never forget in my life," said Federer. "It's unbelievable to get my 97th title and get back to World No. 1. It's very special.

"I was expecting it to be tough today. Grigor is a great player and a great athlete and he's been playing super well in recent months. I thought that this wasn't going to be the result, but he looked to be struggling a bit midway through and I never looked back. I was able to execute my tennis the way I wanted to. I'm very happy."

The Swiss, who won the Australian Open last month for the second year in succession, also improved his head-to-head record against world number five Dimitrov to 7-0.

With King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in attendance, it was Dimitrov who burst out the gates behind a blistering start. The World No. 4 sent an early message across the net with a stunning backhand winner and running cross-court forehand in the opening game. He would claim seven of the first eight winners and it looked to be a tight affair in the Dutch city.

But a netted backhand drew first blood for Federer in the fifth game and he would not look back. The Swiss did not yield an inch from the baseline and a rattled Dimitrov saw a total of 13 unforced errors come off his racquet in the first set. And an immediate break to open the second would prove decisive. Federer crossed the finish in just under an hour, marking the second straight year he has streaked to a title in less than 60 minutes. He defeated Alexander Zverev in 53 minutes in Halle last year.

"I played a great first match and a great last match," Federer added. "In between it was a battle and nerve-wracking, getting back to World No. 1 and managing my expectations and my nerves as well. I was able to handle the pressure and today I played great from the beginning. I pushed forward and I'm very proud that I could win here in Rotterdam."

With his victory in the Rotterdam final, Federer clinched a record 20th ATP World Tour 500 level title. He was previously tied with Nadal with 19 crowns.

Federer has carried the momentum from a dominant finish to 2017 into the new season, opening his campaign with a ruthless 12-0 start. Since falling to Del Potro in the US Open quarter-finals, he has won 25 of 26 matches, with his only blemish coming in the semis of the ATP Finals (l. to Goffin).

Despite falling in the championship, Dimitrov celebrates a 15th final appearance on the ATP World Tour. He streaked to the final without dropping a set, earning impressive wins over in-form opponents Yuichi Sugita, Filip Krajinovic and Andrey Rublev.

"It was a great week, but I just came up short today," said Dimitrov. "Anything can happen, but all credit to Roger. He deserves to win the tournament and played unbelievable tennis the whole week. He raised the bar. I just want to take the positives from the week. My goal was to come out here and play well with each match, but I just came up short today. You do the best you can and play with whatever you have."

Federer will now decide within a few days whether or not to travel to Dubai for the ATP event starting a week from Monday.

He has a home and training base in the UAE and has won the hardcourt tournament seven times.

Date: 18 February 2018, Source: Reuters, ATP and AFP

Federer to face Dimitrov in Rotterdam final

Roger Federer reached his third ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament final on Saturday after beating Andreas Seppi 6-3, 7-6 (3).

The two-time Rotterdam champion moved into the championship match after one hour, 24 minutes and will aim to become the first player in the tournament’s history to win the event on three occasions on Sunday. Federer guaranteed with his quarter-final victory against Robin Haase that he will become the oldest World No. 1 in the history of the ATP Rankings on Monday.

“I wasn't sure if I was going to get out of this one today,” admitted Federer. “It was tough, maybe my best match of the tournament. I am very excited to be in the final here in Rotterdam.”

If Federer goes on to win the title, it will be the 15th year in the 36-year-old’s career that he has won multiple tour-level titles. The right-hander is pursuing trophy No. 97.

The Swiss superstar will meet World No. 5 Grigor Dimitrov for the title after fourth seed David Goffin retired from his semi-final against the Bulgarian with an eye injury while trailing 3-6, 1-0. Federer has won all six previous ATP Head to Head meetings with Dimitrov. If the top seed goes on to win, it will be the 30th time that he defeated a Top 5 opponent in the final to earn a tour-level title.

“He is in great form,” Federer said of Dimitrov. “He had a wonderful season last year. He started solid again this year, so I think he is fresh, ready and eager to go. I enjoy playing against Grigor. I am going to have to try to play aggressive, to play my game and then hope for the best.”

Federer said he was more relaxed on Saturday after achieving his goal of returning to World No. 1.

“Maybe the pressure being gone helped me a little bit,” he said.

Dimitrov, 10 years younger than Federer, will be playing for his ninth career title.

Date: 17 February 2018, Source: ATP and AP

Federer becomes oldest ATP World No.1

Roger Federer guaranteed his return to No.1 in the ATP Rankings after beating Dutchman Robin Haase 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

By overtaking Spaniard Rafael Nadal at No.1 on Monday, Federer will break a number of ATP Rankings records - the longest period between stints at No.1, the oldest player to attain top spot and the longest duration between first and last days at the summit of men’s professional tennis.

Richard Krajicek, the Rotterdam Tournament Director, presented Federer with a special award in an on-court ceremony. "What an amazing run it’s been and a journey it’s been for me throughout, so to clinch World No.1 again this following Monday here in Rotterdam really means a lot to me, so thank you very much, everybody," Federer told the crowd.

"I think reaching No.1 is one of, if not the ultimate achievement in our sport. So sometimes at the beginning you just all of a sudden get there just because you’re playing so well. Later you sometimes try to fight it back and you wrestle it back from somebody else who deserved to be there. And when you’re older, you know you feel like you have to put maybe sometimes double the work in. So this one maybe means the most to me of any achievement throughout my career, getting to No.1 and enjoying it right here at 36, almost 37 years old. It is an absolute dream come true, I can’t believe it."

His third straight victory over Haase means that the Swiss superstar has completed a dramatic return from No.17 in January 2017, following a six-month lay-off due to a knee injury. Since returning, Federer has compiled a 63-5 match record, including titles at three of the past five Grand Slam championships, three ATP World Tour Masters 1000s and two other tournaments.

Having saved three break points at 1-1, Haase appeared not to have read the script when the World No.42 broke Federer for a 5-4 lead, then calmly closed out the 35-minute opener. Federer refocused and signaled his aggressive intent by winning four first-serve points in his opening service game of the second set, which lasted just 19 minutes. From a 3-1 lead in the second set, Federer won nine of the next 10 games to wrap up the match in 80 minutes.

Federer has ensured top spot for the first time since 4 November 2012, five years and 106 days ago - the longest period of time between stints at World No.1. At 36 years of age, Federer is also the oldest player to become No.1, eclipsing the record held by American Andre Agassi, who last held the top spot aged 33 on 7 September 2003.

Federer first became No.1 in the ATP Rankings on 2 February 2004 - a record 14 years and 17 days ago - for a total of 237 straight weeks until 17 August 2008. He then returned to the top spot on two further occasions between 6 July 2009 and 6 June 2010 (48 weeks) and from 9 July 2012 to 4 November 2012 (17 weeks).

Nadal, his great rival, started his fourth stint at No. 1 on 21 August 2017 - 26 weeks ago - and has been the sport’s leader for 167 weeks in total. Federer, with a 10-0 record in 2018, will now add to his record of 302 weeks at No.1 when the latest ATP Rankings are published on Monday.

Date: 16 February 2018, Source: ATP

Federer on brink of becoming oldest No.1

Roger Federer moved to within one victory of becoming the oldest man to take the World No.1 ranking on Thursday with a hard-fought 7-6 (8), 7-5 victory over Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Rotterdam Open. The 36-year-old will now face Robin Haase in the quarter-finals on Friday.

“It was extremely complicated tonight,” Federer said. “I had a good game plan going in, but I was never able to completely pull it off. I couldn’t find my range or my rhythm. I think Philipp did that to me; it was a struggle. When the score was close, I couldn’t release my shots. So it was a battle. It was quite the relief at the end.”

Federer, the 20-time Grand Slam title winner, then eased to victory in the 12th game with a volley winner on second match point.

The Swiss superstar must now defeat Dutchman Haase, who beat Griekspoor 6-4, 6-0 in the final match of the day, to return to the summit of men’s professional tennis for the first time in more than five years.

Federer, the 2005 and 2012 champion, is excited about the possibility of returning to the top of the rankings 19 years after he played Rotterdam in 1999 on his first career wild card.

“This is an exciting challenge, I've struggled to try and get there. I had to win a lot of matches last year,” said Federer, who was world number one for the first time in February 2004.

However, he was last at the summit in October 2012 and slumped to 17 in the world in January last year.

“I never imagined this after my (February 2016) knee surgery. Number one is a tough place to get to.

“The most important thing is to be healthy, I would have had great regrets if I had not come here this week. I'm very excited for tomorrow's match, I can't wait for it to come around.”

Date: 15 February 2018, Source: AFP and ATP

Federer begins bid for No.1 spot with easy win

Roger Federer began his quest to return to No.1 in the ATP Rankings for the first time in over five years with a 6-1, 6-2 win over qualifier Ruben Bemelmans at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

Federer, who will overtake Rafael Nadal at the top of the ATP Rankings if he reaches the semi-finals, moved to within just two wins of the achievement after his 47-minute, first-round win over the No. 116.

“It was very surprising how good things went today,” admitted Federer. “I think the key was to start off well and put Ruben under pressure right away and make him feel like he had to do something special.”

The top seed raced to a one-set lead in just 18 minutes against his Belgian opponent, dropping just four points on serve as he won clinched set point with a put-away forehand winner. The second set continued in much the same vein as the opener, with Federer immediately breaking and consolidating to love for a 2-0 lead. Federer had two break points for a double-break lead in the next game, but the qualifier held firm to keep the deficit to a single break.

Federer did get the second break in the penultimate game of the match, rifling a backhand passing shot that Bemelmans could only return short before the World No. 2 swatted the ball into the open court. The two-time champion then completed a perfect set on serve, winning 16 out of 16 service points, holding to love for the fourth time in a row to secure his place in the second round.

The 36-year-old has now moved one step closer to becoming the oldest World No. 1 in history, with Andre Agassi currently holding the record. The American last held the top spot on 7 September 2003 at 33. Federer’s is yet to lose a match against his next opponent, Philipp Kohlschreiber. The 20-time Grand Slam champion leads their ATP Head to Head series 12-0.

“It's a different match, changing from lefty to righty,” said Federer. “I just hope I can play a good match. It is a sprint to the finish.

“The beginning will be crucial tomorrow, you don't want to fall behind, you want to stay focussed all the way. Any lapses could mean that you get in trouble. But, I enjoy playing against Philipp, I played really good against him at the US Open so I hope I can keep that up tomorrow night.”

Date: 14 February 2018, Source: ATP

Highly motivated Federer wants No.1 Ranking

Roger Federer has his sights set on overtaking Rafael Nadal at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings this week at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, where he competes for the first time since 2013. A semi-final run would return the Swiss star to the summit of men’s professional tennis for the first time since 4 November 2012.

"I only ever said I would think about the Rankings after the Australian Open was over," said Federer in Rotterdam on Monday. "I did not expect to win the Australian Open again and by not winning the ATP Finals, I never thought it would happen again and it may be out of sight. I played at the Australian Open not thinking about the rankings, but I knew I had the flexibility in February over my calendar.

"After the Australian Open was over, I thought I’d love to play Rotterdam and give it a go. Our team is very excited, that I’m here and that I will give it a go. You have to do it, not because it’s the right thing to do, but you have to be here with all your heart and really go for it. Try my very best. Having the option of getting to No. 1 is highly motivating and very exciting to say the least."

The 36-year-old would guarantee a return to No. 1 next Monday if he advances to the semi-finals in Rotterdam. If he reaches Friday’s quarter-finals, Federer could meet fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka.

"I would love to be in that position with anyone, but with Stan it would be like a Grand Slam final, a big-time match. I'm hoping to get to number one and hoping to do it this week. You always want to do it the tough way, it's not easy to get there. The achievement would be quite incredible. It's exciting to see Stan in my section of the draw."

Federer is competing at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament for the first time since capturing his sixth Australian Open crown, and his 20th Grand Slam championship, on 28 January. He opens his ninth Rotterdam campaign Wednesday against 30-year-old Belgian qualifier and World No. 116 Ruben Bemelmans. It will be the first meeting between the players.

If Federer does get back to No. 1 on 19 February, the gap of five years and 106 days will be the longest between stints at No. 1. At 36, he would also become the oldest World No. 1, replacing American Andre Agassi (aged 33), who last held the top spot on 7 September 2003.

Two-time former Rotterdam champion Federer is one of seven players in the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings competing at the Dutch tournament. Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev, last year’s finalist David Goffin, 2015 winner Stan Wawrinka, 2014 champion Tomas Berdych and last week’s Open Sud de France champion Lucas Pouille also feature in the draw.

Date: 12 February 2018, Source: ATP and AFP

Federer to bid for World No.1 spot in Rotterdam

Roger Federer is taking a wild card into next week’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, where he will have the chance to reclaim the No.1 ATP Ranking for the first time in more than five years.

Federer, who last held the top spot on 4 October 2012, moved to within 155 points of Rafael Nadal after claiming his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open and could dethrone Nadal as World No.1 if he reaches the semi-finals in Rotterdam.

Federer has previously played the ATP World Tour 500 tournament eight times, taking the title in 2005 and 2012.

Federer, 36, first rose to No.1 14 years ago on 2 February 2004 and holds the record for most weeks spent at No.1 (302). He is attempting to eclipse Andre Agassi (33) as the oldest World No.1.

Nadal, who is not scheduled to play again until Acapulco in the last week of February, has held No.1 for the past 25 weeks (since 21 August 2017). The Spaniard has been No.1 in the ATP Rankings a total of 166 weeks since first taking over on 18 August 2008. Nadal is seventh all-time in most weeks at No.1 in the history of the ATP Rankings (since 1973).

Federer said: "The tournament is special for me. I remember playing for the first time in 1999 as it was one of the first events where I got the chance to play at the highest level. It feels good to join in the celebrations of the 45th edition."

Rotterdam Tournament Director Richard Krajicek said: "We are thrilled that Roger has chosen to come to the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament at last minute. After his fantastic result at the Australian Open, it is tremendous news that he will be joining us in Rotterdam. It is a crown to the celebration of the history of our tournament."

Federer has a 23-6 record at the tournament. In addition to his two titles, he reached the final in 2001 and semi-finals in 2003. His last appearance at the Rotterdam Ahoy stadium in The Netherlands was 2013, when he lost in the quarter-finals to Julien Benneteau.

The Swiss great completes a strong field for the Rotterdam event, joining compatriot Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev, David Goffin defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych and Nick Kyrgios in the draw.

Date: 7 February 2018, ATP and AFP

Federer beats Cilic to win 20th Grand Slam

Roger Federer added another chapter to his phenomenal career on Sunday when the Swiss superstar captured his 20th Grand Slam championship crown to retain his Australian Open title with a thrilling 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Marin Cilic in the final.

Twelve months on from beating Rafael Nadal in a pulsating five-set final, the 36-year-old once again drew upon his great skill and ingenuity to build upon his legacy as the greatest player in tennis history by winning a record-equalling sixth Australian Open crown (with Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic), coming through a draw that respected observers thought would be problematic.

“I’m so happy, it’s unbelievable,” Federer said, trying really hard to keep his emotions in check. “I’m happy it’s over, but winning is just an absolute dream come true. The fairytale continues for me. After the great year I had last year, it’s incredible.”

Federer has now won three of the past five major championships and the victory, secured over three hours and four minutes, in his 30th major championship final, ensures that Federer is now just 155 points behind World No. 1 Nadal in the ATP Rankings. He was last No. 1 on 4 November 2012.

Federer has now won 96 tour-level career crowns, with only American Jimmy Connors (109) ahead. His 20 major crowns moves him four ahead of second-placed Nadal (16) in the all-time Grand Slam singles title list.

At 36 years, 173 days, Federer has become the third man in the Open Era (since April 1968) to win four or more Grand Slam championship trophies after turning 30, following in the footsteps of all-time great Australians Rod Laver (1969 Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open) and Ken Rosewall (1968 Roland Garros, 1970 US Open, 1971-72 Australian Opens).

Federer improved to 9-1 against Cilic in their ATP Head to Head series, having also won their 2017 Wimbledon final clash. The Swiss hit 41 winners to Cilic’s 45, but it was his stronger service consistency - 67 of 84 first-service points won and 32 of 55 second-service points won - that ensured he was able to remain in contention, despite surges in match-momentum for Cilic. Federer also hit 24 aces to Cilic’s 16, converting six of his 13 break point opportunities on the Croatian's serve.

“I didn't see that through my thick tears, that Rod Laver was taking a picture of me crying,” Federer said. “I don't know what to tell you. I think what happened is I got to the finals very quickly. The semis was cut short. I had a lot of emotions left in me because I didn't have to go to extreme like last year against Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka, so forth.

“When I start thinking about what I was going to say, every subject I touch actually is very meaningful and very emotional. Thanking your team, congratulating Marin, thanking the people, thanking the tournament. At the end it's like one big party.

“But I hoped over time in the speech I would start to relax a little bit, but I couldn't. It was what it was. I wish it wasn't so sometimes. At the same time I'm happy I can show emotions and share it with the people. If I got emotional, it's because it was a full crowd again. No people in the stadium wouldn't make me emotional, I'll tell you that. This is for them really also.”

The emotions show that Federer - however hard it is to believe sometimes given his accomplishments - is human. He even admitted battling nerves ahead of his record 30th Grand Slam championship final.

“I was so bloody nervous all day. It was eating me up inside,” Federer said in his post-final press conference. “That's why, when it was all over, I was just so relieved.”

First Set

Federer got off to a flying start under the roof on Rod Laver Arena, racing out to a 4-0 lead against Cilic, in what is a repeat of last year's final from The Championships at Wimbledon. Cilic netted a smash in the opening game to hand Federer the initiative and was broken again in the third game of the match after firing a backhand into the tramline. Cilic only managed to win four points in the first four games, and until winning the fifth game of the match was totally outrallied and outplayed by Federer. Sublime serving from Federer saw the 19-time Grand Slam champion lose just two points on serve all set as he cruised to a one-set advantage, sealed by another backhand error from his opponent.

Second Set

Looking to respond quickly to the disappointment of losing the first set, Cilic held serve in the opening game and manufactured two break points on Federer’s serve. At 15/40, Federer fired down an ace out wide to save the first before unleashing on a run-around forehand down the line to level at deuce before holding for 1-1. Time and time again throughout the set, Cilic served his way out of tricky situations. The 6’6” Croat staved off single break points at 1-1, 2-2 and 4-4 to maintain his lead with two aces and an unreturned serve to keep Federer at bay. After comfortable holds through most of the set, Federer double faulted at 4-5 30/30 to hand Cilic set point, but the soon-to-be World No. 3 could not capitalise as he dumped a cross-court backhand into the net.

After Federer escaped for 5-5, two service holds would force the set to a crucial second-set tie-break. Federer made the first move with a rifled backhand, opening up the court for an easy winner to go ahead 3/2. But was immediately pegged back by Cilic, who hammered a forehand return for a winner to reach the change of ends back on serve. The decisive move came at 4/5 with Cilic hitting a backhand return at Federer’s laces, before hammering a looped ball into the corner off the forehand to set up two set points. On the second, the 2014 US Open champion banished the memory of his error in the opening game of the match to smash his way to a second-set success.

Third Set

Set three was decided by one game. The sixth game was to be the only game of the set featuring break points, and it was Federer who grasped control of the final here. Cilic netted two groundstrokes and failed to control a Federer passing shot on the volley, to hand his opponent three break opportunities and Federer happily obliged at the second time of asking. The five-time champion stepped in on his backhand return, taking time away from his opponent to force another error and move ahead 4-2. Three games later, Federer closed out the set to love, with his 19th ace, to move to within a set of an incredible milestone victory.

Fourth Set

After leading 30-0 in the first game, Cilic hit three errors to hand Federer an opportunity to seize immediate control. Federer sliced a short return to Cilic’s backhand wing and forced his opponent into a fourth consecutive error to inch even closer to his 20th Grand Slam title. Federer had a chance for a double break in the third game, but could do nothing to stop Cilic’s aggressive play on the forehand wing. The sixth seed pummelled a forehand winner down the line to stay in contact. Cilic threw caution to the wind in the sixth game, stepping up with more aggressive play to force Federer into errors, which led to getting back on serve. Two games later, Cilic threatened Federer’s serve again and crucially found another breakthrough. The 29-year-old attacked the Federer forehand and stepped into the court to dispatch a short reply for a winner, before serving out the set to love for his fifth consecutive game, sending the year’s first major to a final set.

Fifth Set

Cilic’s big chance came in the first game with two break points on Federer’s serve, but the Croat failed to get either of his returns into play after strong Federer serving. After the relief of surviving his opening service game, Federer went on the offensive to break Cilic for a 2-0 lead with a deep cross court backhand return which Cilic ran around, but could only push into the net. From there, Federer surged to victory. A single love hold for Cilic in the fourth game was the only interlude to the charge of Federer. who won 12 of the last 13 points and sealed the title, for the second successive year on a Hawk-Eye challenge, with an unreturned serve out wide.

He may be 36, he may have won everything there is to win - and won it many times - but he still wants more. Another fantastic two weeks in Melbourne has not satisfied him, it has merely whetted his appetite for the rest of the season and beyond.

“I've won three slams now in 12 months,” he said, looking impressed with himself. “I can't believe it myself. I just got to keep a good schedule, stay hungry, then maybe good things can happen. Then I don't think age is an issue, per se. It's just a number.

“But I need to be very careful in my planning, really decide beforehand what are my goals, what are my priorities. I think that's what's going to dictate how successful I will be.

“Exciting times ahead.”

Date: 28 January 2018, Source: ATP and Australian Open

Federer into Australian Open final as Chung retires injured

Roger Federer is one win away from a "special 20" in Melbourne. The Swiss will face Marin Cilic in Sunday's Australian Open final, with the opportunity to win his 20th Grand Slam championship and sixth at Melbourne Park.

Federer, the defending champion at Melbourne Park, booked his place in a 30th major final when leading 6-1, 5-2 against South Korea’s Hyeon Chung, the Next Gen ATP Finals winner, who retired due to blisters on his left foot.

"20 times special," said Federer. "It would be amazing. I can't believe how fast now the week has turned out to be. It ain't just an easy trip to the finals. There's always a lot of work that goes into it during the tournament, focus, and also preparation beforehand. For many weeks and months before, you try to put yourself in the position, are you going to be ready in case a good semi-finals or quarter-finals match at the Australian Open, so forth.

"This is something you sort of plan from a long time ago. That's why when it does happen, it's a great feeling. Rewards the hard work in my team. It shows us that we did a lot of things right in the off-season, as well. That always gives you confidence, especially moving into the semis and finals when you're starting to hit the ball very nicely after the first few matches where it's always a bit more difficult."

The 36-year-old Federer will contest his seventh Australian Open final (5-1) against sixth-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic on Sunday night. It will be a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon final, which Federer won in straight sets against Cilic. Federer has an 8-1 ATP Head to Head series lead over Cilic, with the Croatian's lone win coming in the 2014 US Open semi-finals, when he went on to win his only major title (d. Nishikori).

Twelve months ago Federer was preparing to face his greatest rival, Rafael Nadal, in the final at Melbourne Park, both at the climax of a wonderful comeback from their respective injuries and time away from the Tour. The past year has seen Federer take his Grand Slam tally to 19, with victories in Melbourne and Wimbledon, and come close to reclaiming No. 1 in the ATP Rankings.

The Basel native has returned to this position in Melbourne with a near-perfect run through the draw, not dropping a set in his bottom half passage. There was much excitement around his semi-final with the 21-year-old Chung, who had upset Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic to reach his maiden Grand Slam semi-final. The Next Gen ATP Finals champion was thwarted by his blisters, but not before Federer had a chance to glimpse the right-hander's potential.

"I thought the first set was normal," Federer told Jim Courier, in an on-court interview. "I couldn't tell what was going on with my opponent. In the second set I felt he was getting slower. He's had a problem with the blister. I've played with blisters in the past a lot, and it hurts a lot. At some point it's too much and you make things worse. Clearly I'm happy to be in the final but not like this. He's had such a wonderful tournament.

"Fighting was a problem today. I could tell something was wrong, but he has a great composure. I think he's going to achieve next level excellence - Top 10 Rankings for sure. I can see why he beat Novak and Zverev. He's going to be a great, great player."

Date: 26 January 2018, Source: ATP

Federer beats Berdych for 14th Australian Open Semi-final

Roger Federer continued his pursuit of a 20th Grand Slam championship crown on Wednesday night when he booked his place in the Australian Open semi-finals. The Swiss superstar, bidding to retain his crown and lift a sixth trophy at Melbourne Park, fought back from Tomas Berdych’s promising start to record a 7-6 (1), 6-3, 6-4 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

Berdych, the No. 19 seed, took a 3-0 lead and missed out on two set point opportunities at 5-3 and 6-5 in the first set, only for Federer to apply the pressure and regain control of the pair’s 26th ATP Head to Head meeting. Federer now leads 20-6.

"I hung around, got a bit lucky, a bit angry, a frustrated, maybe at the umpire, but I actually thought the call was good anyway," Federer told Jim Courier, during an on-court interview. "I was just frustrated and a bit antsy. I'm happy I got out of that first set. It ended up being key to the match. Tomas was great."

The 36-year-old Federer, who is through to his 14th Australian Open semi-final, is the oldest player to reach that stage since Australian all-time great Ken Rosewall (42 years, 68 days) in January 1977.

"It was a good start," said Berdych. "I had good chances, a couple set points. Then I think he just got more confident after he saved the first set. Then it was very difficult with him again. After having been basically a whole set down, it gives you a big boost. Especially with him, I think it was just the deciding thing. I mean, everything is 'if'. But winning a first set would be completely different story."

Second seed Federer, who beat Rafael Nadal in last year’s final, will next challenge South Korea’s Hyeon Chung, the 21-year-old Next Gen ATP Finals champion. Chung reached his first major championship semi-final with a straight sets victory over American Tennys Sandgren earlier in the day. Federer and World No. 58 Chung have never met before.

"I've never played Chung or Kyle Edmund so it's great to see new names on the scene," said Federer, during his on-court interview. "The way both of them made it to the semis is highly impressive. The Chung-Djokovic match was the match I watched the most. Chung is very talented. He's clearly got nothing to lose. I will tell myself the same, and we'll see what happens."

Later, during his press conference, Federer admitted, "'I'm very excited to play Chung. I thought he played an incredible match against Novak. I mean, to beat Novak here is one of the tough things to do, I believe... To bounce back from a Novak match and just somehow get it done today, this afternoon, that's tough. That shows that he's had good composure, a great mindset... I think it's an interesting match for me. I'll definitely have to look into how I need to play against him because he has some great qualities, especially defensively."

With his ninth straight win over Berdych, Federer improved to 92-13 at Melbourne Park and will now prepare for a record 43rd major semi-final on Friday night.

Should Federer retain the Australian Open crown he will move to within 155 points of his great Spanish rival, Nadal, who is currently No. 1 in the ATP Rankings.

First Set

Berdych started aggressively to win the first three games, and didn’t put a foot wrong until the ninth game. But as the Czech served for the first set at 5-3, Federer appeared to be rattled, yet was subtly able to raise his game. The pressure began to tell and Berdych lost three of his first four service points, but recovered only to squander a set point chance. Federer broke on his fourth break point, then, when serving in the next game, made a subtle change of pace on a forehand at 30/40. Berdych’s eyes lit up. Needing to generate pace, the Czech struck a backhand long and a second set point opportunity disappeared. Federer refocused in the tie-break to win the first three points and clinched the 60-minute opener with a sliced backhand drop shot winner. Overall, Federer lost just three of his first-service points (25/28) and hit 24 winners in the set.

“I just tried to hang around, tried to play a bit more aggressive, get some rhythm going, because Tomas found that early,” said Federer. “That's why I was under pressure. It was definitely very close, the turning point was the first set, and it ended up being for the entire match. I played a great tie-break. Got off to a good start there. But coming back from 2-5 in the first set, it was clearly big tonight.”

Second Set

Berdych, contesting the 200th Grand Slam championship match of his career, gave himself an opportunity in the third game of the second set, when Federer was serving at 30/40. But the Swiss star, with improved court position, remained aggressive and ripped a backhand winner down the line. As the set wore on, Federer pounced, coming to the net to strike a backhand body shot at 4-3, with Berdych serving at 15/40. Federer soon calmly held to 15 to remain on course for his ninth straight victory over Berdych.

Third Set

The writing appeared to be on the wall for Berdych when a Hawk-Eye challenge on break point at 1-1, went Federer’s way. Federer gave a wry smile as the big screen showed the ball had clipped the line by a small margin. But credit to Berdych, the 2014 and 2015 semi-finalist, when he broke back immediately with a return winner. Federer subsequently raised his game once more with a third successive service break, after a backhand winner. From that moment on, Federer lost only one point in his next three service games. He has yet to lose a set at this year's championship.

Date: 24 January 2018, Source: ATP