Imperious Federer cruises into semi-finals

Defending champion Roger Federer recovered from a slow start to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open with a straight-sets victory over Tomas Berdych. The second seed struggled to get going on Rod Laver Arena but fought back from a breakdown and saved two set points in the opener before going on to win 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 6-4.

Federer has not dropped a set at Melbourne Park and the overwhelming tournament favourite will face surprise package Hyeon Chung in the last four. After such an encouraging start, it was an all-too-familiar story for Berdych, the 19th seed suffering a ninth successive defeat against the domineering 19-time grand slam champion. 

The imperious Swiss struck 61 winners and broke four times to stay on course for a sixth Australian Open title.  Berdych made an imposing start, Federer looking uncharacteristically out of sorts and going a break down at 2-0 after drilling a backhand wide.

The Czech timed the ball superbly for the majority of the opening set, but Federer broke back with an exquisite backhand winner after being left disgruntled when a Hawk-Eye replay failed to appear on the screen and his challenge was unsuccessful.

Federer had saved a set point to get back on serve at 5-4 and fended off another before bossing a tie-break, the 36-year-old's serve, slick movement and clean striking giving him the edge.

Berdych was presented with the first break-point opportunity of the second set when Federer netted another backhand, but the world number two got himself out of trouble and combined great defence with classy groundstrokes to go a break up at 5-3.

The world number 20 appeared to be moving without any problems despite going off court for treatment with stiffness in his back after the second set, but a stray backhand had him a break down and teetering early in the third.

A blistering forehand return enabled Berdych to break straight back and level at 2-2, but another backhand winner from Federer in the next game edged him back in front, and the Swiss made the advantage stick on this occasion to wrap up a convincing win.