Defending champion Roger Federer is through to his 14th Australian Open semifinal, where he will face rising star Hyeon Chung of Korea.

In a highly anticipated rematch from last year’s Australian Open, world number 2 Roger Federer overcame a spirited effort from Czech danger-man Tomas Berdych. The Swiss superstar defeated his in-form opponent 7-6(1) 6-3 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena, continuing his quest to defend his title.

The defending champion held a 19-6 career lead over Berdych, having won the last 8 consecutive matches, including their most recent encounter at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships. His last loss to the Czech was at the semifinals of Dubai in 2013, where Berdych prevailed 3-6 7-6(8) 6-4.

Always considered a threat, the Czech is long overdue a Grand Slam title.

Berdych had progressed to the quarterfinal without much fanfare, defeating the likes of Juan-Martin Del Potro en route. He disposed of temperamental Italian Fabio Fognini 6-1 6-4 6-4 in the 4th round, displaying poise and precision that seemed to be a new addition to his already impressive repertoire. Alternatively, Federer defeated Hungarian Martin Fucsovics 6-4 7-6(3) 6-2 in his fourth round match.

Berdych opened the first set by breaking the defending champion, following some aggressive play coupled with erroneous shots from Federer.

He then raced to a 5-2 lead, keeping the world number 2 at bay using his booming serve and huge groundstrokes. Serving for the set at 5-3 however, the big Czech faltered and was broken by the Swiss, who finally capitalized on his numerous break point opportunities. The set proceeded to a tiebreak, which was dominated by the defending champion. Federer employed his laser-like forehand and quick movement around the court to take the tiebreak 7-1 and win the first set with a sublime drop-shot in 57 minutes.

Berdych was able to regain some momentum in the second set, and there were no breaks of serve till the eighth game. Regardless, only one was necessary as Federer broke the Czech with a backhand passing shot following some exceptional play. He then proceeded to serve out the second set, claiming it 6-3 in just 34 minutes.

Federer seemed to be in complete control, swinging freely and hitting winners from both sides of the court. His Czech opponent called for a medical timeout prior to the third set, having an undisclosed issue examined in the locker room. Whether he was hampered by an injury was not immediately obvious and he was soon broken by the Swiss in the third game.

Berdych did show signs of life, as he employed his devastating forehand to break his opponent and level the match at 2-2. The crowd was eager to see this continue, evident in their vocal support of the Czech. It was to no avail as Federer regained his composure, dictating play with his forehand and backhand. He quickly broke Berdych in the subsequent game to lead 3-2, before holding on to serve out the set and win the match 7-6(1) 6-3 6-4 in 2 hours 14 minutes.

Federer’s shot inventory was on full display, as he utilized everything from drop-shots to slices to lobs to outmaneuver Berdych, who is more one-dimensional in his approach. The Czech may have been a constant threat to the Swiss superstar in his earlier years, but it appears Federer has finally developed a game-plan to negate the 19th seed’s power.

Advancing to his 14th Australian Open semifinal, Federer now faces unseeded Korean youngster and 2017 NextGen Finals champion Hyeon Chung. Chung defeated unseeded American Tennys Sandgren in the day’s other quarterfinal, 6-4 7-6(5) 6-3 to advance to his first Grand Slam semifinal.

Federer and Chung have never met on the professional circuit, and although the youngster has been in great form, it’s unlikely that he can upset the defending champion at this stage of the tournament.

Do you think Chung can pull off the upset of the tournament when these two clash in the semifinals? Be sure to leave your comments below and follow us on www.tennis-pulse.com for continued coverage of the 2018 Australian Open.