Federer stops Berd, takes flight

Djokovic one night, Rafa the next. Roger Federer put an end to the frailty of the thirty-something seeds.

In the Open that no other seed seems to want to win, Federer eclipsed Tomas Berdych in the quarter-final after a first set scare and advanced to the semi-final and potentially his 20th grand slam.

He is the oldest player to make the semi-final of a grand slam since Jimmy Connors, which makes Rafa's protest that the tour is too taxing and causing injuries for players seem a little thin.

The path is open for Federer to win his 20th slam. Of the four players left in the semi finals only one, Marin Cilic, is a top ten seed - sixth.

Federer will play Hyeon Chung in a battle between the man who beat Tennys and the man who mastered tennis.

The Berdych match was a deflating insight into what lies ahead for all three other men left in the draw, for Berdych was playing as well as he could early and was left to hope that the same could not be said of Federer.

Federer began flat and went down a break in his first service game. The idea that the malaise of the top seeds would continue began to itself take seed, as it were.

Federer was angry with his game early and frustrated with the judging. He challenged a line call and at length the players and umpire waited for a result but to no avail. Eventually the umpire announced that the technology was unable to provide a graphic re-enactment of the line call but rest assured it could provide a decision. Federer lost the challenge and the point.

"Are you happy with that?" he asked the umpire. "It's your call. You can say, he's already been screwed over once you don't want it to happen twice in a row. It's your call. You're the umpire."

Consequently Federer saw the irony when on set point Berdych was over-ruled on a challenge. He could not keep a straight face which soon meant neither could Berdych. And of course Federer then won set point. There was no smiling after that.

"I hung around. I had to get a bit lucky, a bit angry, a bit frustrated maybe at the umpire. I actually thought the call was good. Then probably he was right ... it was all good. I was just getting a bit frustrated and antsy. I'm happy I got out of the first set. It ended up being the key of the match," Federer said after the match.

"It could have gone either way. He deserved it. Like you said, I stole that."

The second set lapsed into the easy rhythm expected of the match. Federer plays a game that makes Berdych uncomfortable. The Czech 19th seed is a tall player who likes to stand and hit the ball hard and so control the court from a commanding central position.

With power shots, starting with his serve, he gets opponents working hard just to return it to him and the power balance is all in his favour. Federer takes away that time for he doesn't let Berdych hit a ball standing still, everything he hits is on the run chasing down and so it takes away his power and his control.

Federer had beaten Berdych 19 times before, so there was a shoulder sinking de ja vu when Federer defiantly rattled cross-court balls past him without the hope of having time to react.

If Berdych felt deflated by the experience the sense of de ja vu was encouraging for Federer who beat Berdych last year on his way to winning his first grand slam title in more than four years.

"This year is totally different. My expectations are much different. I won a couple of slams last year. Last year I hadn't won a slam for 4.5 years. I knew how to do it but I started forgetting about it. So, it was nice to have that win last year against Tomas and this year again of course.

This story Federer stops Berd, takes flight first appeared on The Age.