Federer hits out at Nadal antics after Melbourne defeat

Simon Foster 24/01/2014
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Unimpressed: Federer (l) had some choice words about Nadal's antics.

Roger Federer railed against Rafael Nadal's loud grunting and slow play Friday after he tumbled out of the Australian Open at the hands of the aggressive Spaniard.

The usually ice-cool Swiss had sharp words with the umpire mid-match about the Spaniard's ball-striking grunt, and complained he repeatedly goes unpunished for time violations.

Federer's polished demeanour slipped after he crashed to a seventh consecutive Grand Slam defeat to his rival and in straight sets, in an anti-climactic semi-final in Melbourne.

Federer admitted he found Nadal's grunt distracting because the Spaniard was making a noise during some points, but not others. Nadal won 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 6-3 for his 23rd win over Federer.

"It goes in phases. One point he does and he doesn't. That's just what I was complaining about," Federer said. "Had no impact on the outcome of the match."

He added that fidgety Nadal, who is notoriously slow to serve, should have racked up several time violations during their 33-match rivalry — but instead, he has only received two.

"Rafa is doing a much better job today than he used to. I mean, I'm not complaining much about the time. But I think I've played him, what, 33 or 34 times," Federer said.

"He's gotten two point penalties over the course of our rivalry. I just think that's not quite happening. I mean, we know how much time he used to take.

"I'm not complaining about so many things. But, I mean, either you have rules or you don't. If you don't have rules, it's fine. Everybody can do whatever they want to do."

He added: "I didn't lose the match because of that. It didn't bother me. I just felt I had to mention something."

Nadal looked surprised when told about Federer's exchange with the umpire, and said nobody had complained about his grunting before.

"I really didn't know that. When I am playing, when I am hitting the ball during the point, the last thing that I am thinking is trying to bother the opponent," he said.

"The only thing that I am focusing on is trying to hit my ball well. That's it.

"I am sorry if I bothered somebody, but I never did in the past. So is something that nobody in my career, you know, told me nothing about this, that I am bothering the opponent.

"But if I bothered him in any moment, he knows 100 percent it was not because I wanted to. I never do anything on the court to bother the opponent. I think I did the normal things that I do in every match."

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Australian Open: Wawrinka edges past Berdych to reach first Slam final

David Cooper 23/01/2014
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Stan the man: Wawrinka will appear in his first Grand Slam final.

Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka reached his first Grand Slam final after edging out Tomas Berdych in four tight sets at the Australian Open on Thursday.

The eighth seed beat the Czech 6-3, 6-7 (1/7), 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4) in three hours 31 minutes and will play either Rafael Nadal or fellow Swiss Roger Federer in Sunday's final.

Wawrinka, who upset three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, supplants Federer as the Swiss number one by making the final. Federer has held the top Swiss ranking since 2001.

"I'm speechless, it's amazing. I am so happy to win that match to make my first final here," Wawrinka said. "I am working every day to try and win matches. I didn't expect to make a final in a Grand Slam and tonight it's happened, so tonight I'm really happy."

Wawrinka didn't lose serve and only had one break point against him as big-serving Berdych dished up seven double faults, four of them, crucially, in the third and fourth set tiebreakers.

Berdych's serve was only broken once and Wawrinka shaded the Czech by just one point (143-142) throughout the whole match.

It will be Wawrinka's first major final after he lost to Djokovic in five sets in the semi-finals at last year's US Open.

Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova will also be appearing in her first Grand Slam final after she secured a routine 6-1, 6-2 victory over fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska. 

The 20th seed was in inspired form as she destroyed the Pole and booked her place in the final. 

"I'm playing the final, so that's something beautiful. It's like a dream. So I will go just out there and play my best, try to do my best," she said of facing Chinese fourth seed Li Na in Saturday's final.

"Today I was doing everything right," she added. "I was going for my shots. I was just doing everything perfect. Aga (Radwanska) is an unbelievable player and I expected a tough match. I just knew I had to go for my shots."

Li Na will hope that she can win a second Grand Slam title after she secured an equally comfortable victory over teenager Eugenie Bouchard. 

The fourth seed steamrolled the rising Canadian 6-2, 6-4 to continue her stellar form at Melbourne Park where she has now reached three finals, as well as another semi-final and the fourth round over the past five years.

"It is the third time, so pretty close to the trophy," the 31-year-old said, after teaching the ultra-confident Bouchard, 19, a tennis lesson. "At least I'll try to not fall down this time, because last year in the final I think I played well but I only can say (I was) unlucky because I fell down twice."

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Federer downs Murray to book semi-final date with Nadal

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Hitting form: Federer excelled in beating Murray and booking his place in the semi-finals.

Roger Federer booked his place in the Australian Open semi-finals after securing a hard-fought victory over Andy Murray in three hours and 20 minutes. 

Federer served for a straight-sets win in the third set and held two match points in the tie-break but Murray showed tenacity in the extreme to take the match into a fourth.

However, in only his seventh match after back surgery, he ran out of steam and Federer eventually clinched a 6-3 6-4 6-7 (6/8) 6-3 victory and a semi-final date with his old rival Rafael Nadal.

"I thought Andy did well, he kept the ball in play and put the pressure on me and unfortunately I couldn't get it done in the third set, with either the serve or the forehand missing. So I am happy to get the win in four," Federer said.

"I am much higher than I was last year and that's very satisfying just because I have confidence in my movement.

"I am happy that the last four months of work have paid off and now I am in the semis. It's an amazing start to the season."

This was their 21st meeting and the first time Murray was the higher ranked. But Federer's form in defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round meant the Swiss ace was the bookmakers favourite. 

Murray started in ominous fashion as he drilled a clean winner off his backhand on the first point but soon Federer was pushing forward and making life hard for his opponent.

He brought up two break points in the fourth game and took the first when Murray fired a forehand long.

The fourth seed was playing well but Federer was in rare form, barely missing a first serve and hitting the ball as clean as a whistle off the ground.

Federer has a new bigger-headed racquet this season and a new man in his corner in Stefan Edberg, and both appear to have renewed his confidence.

Murray appeared confident in his game, too, and was certainly playing at a higher level than he had at any other time in the tournament. The 26-year-old has consistently shown an ability to step it up against the top players, and this was a real step up after three players outside the top 100.

But two forehand errors in a row cost him in the fifth game as Federer broke to lead 3-2. Murray was getting close to the Federer serve now but could not engineer a break point, and his frustration was evident as the second set slipped away.

The last time Murray had met Federer was in the semi-finals here last year, when he prevailed in five sets for his first win over the Swiss in a grand slam match. He would have to go five again to repeat that, but that looked a remote possibility as he hung on grimly at the start of the third set.

Federer forced four break points in Murray's opening two service games but the fourth seed showed courage to save them all. The Swiss still looked the better player, though, and he struck once more in the ninth game when Murray netted a forehand.

The British number one was unhappy that umpire Pascal Maria had allowed a Federer lob to stand even though it looked like the ball had bounced twice. That left Federer serving for the match and for the first time he wobbled, three errors giving Murray his first two break points of the match.

He saved one but on the second a Murray backhand down the line drew the error and he was back to 5-5.

A tie-break would decide it, and it was a real nerve jangler for both men. Federer looked like he had opened up a decisive lead at 5-2 and he had two match points at 6-4, but Murray played fine attacking points to save both.

The Scot then brought up a first set point and it was Federer who cracked, sending a forehand long. Murray appeared to have the momentum and he opted to take a toilet break at the end of the set, giving Federer more time to reflect on his missed opportunities.

But it was Murray who had the mental letdown and found himself facing three break points in the second game of the fourth set. He steeled himself to save those and then found himself embroiled in a 19-minute game, which he eventually extricated himself from after fighting off three more break points.

But that effort seemed to take its toll, with Murray dropping the speed on his first serve and beginning to look very weary. He saved another break point to level at 3-3, but the pressure was growing, and when he slipped 0-40 behind at 3-4, Federer finally broke through.

Another twist seemed possible when the Swiss found himself 0-30 serving for the match for a second time, but he reeled off four points in a row, clinching victory with his 10th ace to move through to an 11th straight semi-final in Melbourne. 

Earlier in the day Nadal had booked his place in the semi-finals after defeating Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (9/7), 6-2, while in the women's quarter-finals there were victories for Dominika Cibulkova and Agnieszka Radwanska. 

Cibulkova was in fine form as she destroyed Simona Halep 6-3, 6-0, while favourite Victoria Azarenka was in inconsistent form as she fell to a shock 1-6, 7-5, 6-0 loss to Radwanska. 

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