MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Roger Federer ramped his game up another level in a clinically efficient 7-6(4) 6-2 6-4 win over sixth seed Tomas Berdych on Tuesday and advance to his 12th Australian Open semi-final.
Berdych was a potentially tricky quarter-final opponent for the 34-year-old Swiss, having beaten him the last two times they had clashed at a grand slam.
But Federer won the crucial points to put himself into a position to challenge for the 18th major title that he desires and which has been just out of reach since 2012.
“It’s part of the reason why I guess I’m still playing. I feel like I’m competitive at the top. I can beat all the guys on tour,” Federer told reporters.
“It’s nice now that in the last three slams that I’ve been as consistent as I have been.”
Federer has made the final at the last two grand slams but lost both to world number one Novak Djokovic.
His quarter-final performance, which included five breaks of serve and 48 winners, would not have gone unnoticed by potential semi-final opponents Djokovic or Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who clash later on Rod Laver Arena.
The Swiss has built steadily throughout his run at Melbourne Park and the composed nature of his victories against the young pretender Grigor Dimitrov in the third round and Berdych showed he would be more than ready for a last four showdown.
Crucially too, he has not expended too much energy, dropping only one set so far.
On Tuesday, several of his service games lasted around a minute, with Berdych powerless against Federer’s pinpoint delivery.
Even when he was in trouble facing a potential break, Federer just calmly took care of his side of the court and made Berdych scramble under pressure and the Czech said he felt the Swiss was moving impressively through the gears.
“I think he’s still on a pretty high level, playing great tennis. He’s just proving how great a player he is, how difficult at this time it is to play him,” Berdych said.
“He was playing really, really aggressive, without any mistakes, without any unforced errors. That’s the way that he needs to play.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Martyn Herman