A Swiss player will definitely be in the Australian Open men’s singles final after Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka progressed to the last four in Melbourne Park.
The duo set up a semi-final clash against each other after Federer, who has won the title four times, defeated Germany’s Mischa Zverev and Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.
Zverev, who knocked out world number one Sir Andy Murray in the fourth round, could not find the same form that helped him beat the Briton as the 17th seed got through 6-1, 7-5, 6-2.
Looking ahead to Thursday’s (January 26) clash, Federer, who has won 18 of the 21 matches between them and has never lost on a hard court to Wawrinka, said his positive record against his fellow countryman will not hold much sway when they meet.
“I think him and Rafa [Nadal], now my best game,” the 35-year-old with 17 Grand Slam titles to his name said.
“I played him so much.
“Stan and I practiced so much together.
“With Rafa, I only practiced once in my life, whereas with Stan, I can’t even keep count anymore.”
Wawrinka, the tournament’s fourth seed, needed a tie break to win the first set off Tsonga and after gaining the momentum went on to win 7-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Twelfth seed Tsonga did manage to get a break of serve in the second set, but Wawrinka broke straight back, starting a streak of six straight games which set up the victory.
During the opening set, there was a sense of tension between the players with an exchange in French between them during a change of ends, with the Swiss asking: “What are you looking at?”
Tsonga responded: “I’m not looking at anything. What are you looking at?”
“I asked you: what are you looking at,” retorted Wawrinka as the verbal tennis went back and forth.
The other men’s quarter-finals take place tomorrow with Spain’s Nadal, the 2009 men’s singles winner, facing third seed Milos Raonic of Canada before Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov takes on Belgian David Goffin.
In the women’s singles draw, there will be an United States representative in the final after Venus Williams set up a semi-final encounter with Coco Vandeweghe.
Although 13th seed Williams beat Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets, she was made to battle her way over the line.
Pavlyuchenkova broke her opponent’s serve four times, but was unable to capitalize on these moments as she lost 6-4, 7-6.
It is the first time in 14 years Williams has made the Australian Open semi-finals and at 36 she is the oldest woman to reach this stage of a Grand Slam since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994.
Speaking afterwards, Williams said she was glad to get through such a grueling match.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so excited,” she said during her on-court interview.
“Today was such a hard-fought match and she [Pavlyuchenkova] never let up.
“We’ve always had these quality matches and I knew today would be nothing less.”
Fellow American Vandeweghe pulled off a surprise as she ran past seventh seed and last year’s French Open champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-4, 6-0.
The 25-year-old who is ranked 35th in the world used her natural powerful strokes to outclass Muguruza, getting the important break of serve in the seventh game of the match.
She then went onto steam through the second without conceding a game.
Tomorrow’s quarter-finals see Williams’ younger sister Serena, a six-time winner in Melbourne, play Britain’s Johanna Konta and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic face unseeded Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
By George Thorpe
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.