Tennis  

Halep, Federer, Chung through to semi-finals

Switzerland Roger Federer/ AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS

Even when he is out of the tournament, Rafael Nadal has relevance as his exit throws up Roger Federer as favourite to defend the title he won last year. The Swiss rolled into the semifinals from a come-back in the first set to defeat Tomas Berdych 7/6 (1); 6/3; 6/4.

Also into the semi-finals are top woman seed, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber and the Korean sensation, Hyeon Chung.

The match between Federer and Tomas Berdych was a continuation of their career encounters. This time in Melbourne, the Czech tennis star attempted to improve on his 6- 19 head-to-head record but the gap only widened. In the first set, Berdych secured a 5-2 lead. Roger held the eighth game on his serve. He lost the service game for 5-3 and Roger needed to hold to stay in the set. A couple of double faults put Roger in danger of losing the set.

There was drama, when the electronic line system malfunctioned when it was required to confirm a call. Roger settled down and cancelled two set points before holding the ninth game. Berdych failed to win his serve. The set was decided by a tie-breaker won by Federer 7 point to 1.

Simona Halep took the first set 6-3, on a single break of Karolina Pliskova’s serve. Starting the second set, she faced break point at 30-40.

A forehand winner got her the deuce. Karolina had the first advantage point but lost it on one of her many unforced forehand errors. She held the game and broke Pliskova’s serve to lead. It was in the fourth game that Pliskova registered on the score board 3-1. A quick service game stretched the lead. Although she opened the sixth game with her nemesis of consecutive forehand misses, Karolina clinched if after being stretched to deuce.

It was Pliskova’s last hurray, as the world number one player held serve and also broke her opponent’s serve for the set at 6-2.

The 2016 champion, Angelique Kerber played as a lady on a mission. There was no replica of her struggle against Hsieh in the fourth round as she completely dominated the 2017 US Open finalist, Madison Keys of the United States. Kerber conceded only one game in the first set and two in the second set; of a match that ended in 51 minutes. Both players hit 13 winners each but Kerber did on the crucial points. The German lady lost only four points on the 23 times she registered her first serve and she committed only seven unforced errors to the American’s whopping 25.

Commenting on her change to a more aggressive player, the 30-year old Angelique said: “I’m too old to be running for every ball so I have to change something.”

Hyeon Chung continued his remarkable progress in Melbourne by defeating American Tennys Sandgreen in three straight sets 6/4; 7/6(5); 6/3. He is the first player from South Korea to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam Tournament.

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