Saturday 16 December 2017 / 02:33 PM

AO DAY 9: SWISS STARS SET UP TITANIC SEMI

A relaxed Roger Federer barely had to break a sweat as he cruised past Mischa Zverev 6-1 7-5 6-2 and set up a mouth-watering semi-final against compatriot Stan Wawrinka.

Should he win that, a dream final against Rafael Nadal might become reality.

Zverev produced an all-court masterclass to upset top seed Andy Murray two days ago but was no match for the Swiss maestro.

The 35-year-old hit 65 winners and only 13 unforced errors in an imperious display. Federer breezed through the first set in 19 minutes but it took two magical backhand passing shots in game 11 of the second set to break Zverev.

One of the highlights – and there were plenty – was a glittering backhand lob winner in the fifth game of the third set. The four-time champion is into his 13th Australian Open semi-final.

Wawrinka, whom Federer won the Davis Cup with in 2014, earlier beat 2008 runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 6-4 6-3. The crowd struggled to get involved as they saw lethargic tennis in the first set and it felt like both players were going through the motions.

When Wawrinka took the tiebreak, there was a heated exchange between the two at the sit-down. The three-time major winner brushed it aside post-match: “You can have some tension during the match between players. Sometimes it can happen. Most important is that after the match it’s all good.”

The tension didn’t carry on thereafter, but Wawrinka’s flashy one-handed backhand did against the largely subdued Frenchman.

Venus Williams has made history at the Australian Open. At 36, she becomes the tournament’s oldest female semi-finalist after her 6-4 7-6 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The story of the match was Pavlyuchenkova’s inability to capitalise on leads. The Russian broke for 2-1 and 4-3 leads in both sets, but on all four occasions Williams broke back immediately. Her cause wasn’t helped by serving nine double-faults, including one on match point.

The last of Venus’ seven majors came in 2008 but she still has a winner’s mentality.

“I feel like I have a lot of great tennis in me. Any time you feel that way, you should continue,” Williams said.

“I try to believe. Should I look across the net and believe the person across the net deserves it more? This mentality in not how champions are made.”

Venus hasn’t dropped a set all tournament and will next face fellow American Coco Vandeweghe, whom she beat in Rome last year in their only previous encounter.

Unseeded Vandeweghe previously dumped out defending champion and world No.1 Angelique Kerber and continued her giant-killing run by thrashing reigning French Open champion Garbine Muguruza 6-4 6-0.

Indeed, the California native is a remarkable 6-1 when playing against opponents ranked inside the top-10 as of the start of last year.

She hit 31 winners and said afterwards, “Once I got rolling in the second set, it was like a freight train, you couldn’t stop it.”

[YouTube – GrandSlam Highlights III]

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Farhan Shah

A recent addition to the roster, Melburnian Farhan is a sports nut who has come on board to provide golf, tennis, AFL and rugby league coverage for CBS.

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