Roger Federer’s 1,000th match was similar to most in his career — no-nonsense, dominating from the start, some incredible shots, and yes, victory.
Four-time champion Federer advanced to his ninth straight Australian Open semi-final with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win yesterday over Juan Martin del Potro, the man who beat him for the US Open title in 2009.
“It’s a lot of matches and a lot tennis,” Federer said. “Either I have been around for a long time or I’m extremely fit. You decide which way you want to describe it, but I’m happy.”
In the semi-finals, Federer is scheduled to play either Rafael Nadal or Tomas Berdych. As at press time last night, Nadal was leading their semi-final 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 4-3.
Defending women’s singles champion Kim Clijsters is also into the semi-finals. She and No. 3 seed Victoria Azarenka stayed in contention for the women’s title when they won their quarter-final matches yesterday.
Clijsters’ 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) win over world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki ensured that Wozniacki would lose the top ranking she has held for most of the past 15 months.
Azarenka beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-7 (0/7), 6-0, 6-2 and she is scheduled to face Clijsters, who is still trying to overcome a left-ankle injury, in the semi-finals. Today, Maria Sharapova plays Ekaterina Makarova, who beat five-time champion Serena Williams in the fourth round, and world No. 2 Petra Kvitova takes on unseeded Sara Errani of Italy.
Federer’s career, including a record 16 Grand Slam singles victories, can be enhanced even more if he wins the title this year at Melbourne Park. With a 232-34 record in Grand Slam singles matches, he would overtake Jimmy Connors’ mark of 233 wins with victories in the semi-finals and Sunday’s final.
The quarter-finals on the other side of the men’s draw are today — Andy Murray is set to play Kei Nishikori of Japan and top seed Novak Djokovic takes on David Ferrer. They will have a tough time matching the quality of the Federer-del Potro encounter.
Del Potro, who has recovered from the right-wrist injury that sidelined him for most of last year, played well in flashes, but Federer was at another level, hitting lobs, drop shots, cross-court winners and generally negating del Potro’s big forehand.
“We have played some big matches against each other, so just knowing how well he’s been playing as of late, I was just hoping that I would get off a good start,” Federer said. “I was able to mix it up well and control the ball, and right away sort of felt confident, which then sort of helped me to use all aspects of my game.”
The end of the match came in a most fitting way, one of Federer’s backhand winners.
Before that, Federer saved his fourth break point at 5-3 in the second set after a long rally. He let out a loud yell, rather uncharacteristic for a player not prone to big celebrations.
“That’s why I didn’t celebrate when I won the set, just to make it up,” Federer said, smiling.
“I really knew how important that game was for me,” Federer added.
Clijsters has needed continual treatment since Sunday, when she injured her left ankle and had to save four match points in her fourth-round win over Li Na, a rematch of last year’s final. The 28-year-old Belgian’s win means Wozniacki will lose the top ranking, with Azarenka one of three women who could finish world No. 1 in Melbourne — Sharapova and Kvitova are the others.