Roger Federer is dreaming of more Australian Open glory after delivering a showcourt masterclass to surge into his 40th grand slam semi-final at Melbourne Park.
Rod Laver AC, elevated then celebrated for his Australia Day accolade, was fittingly front and centre in the arena named in his honour as Federer crushed sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-4 for his record 80th Open triumph.
The peerless Swiss rode roughshod over Berdych, needing barely two hours to set up a blockbuster last-four showdown on Thursday with great rival and world No.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic.
Federer will be playing Djokovic for the 45th time, the tennis titans’ epic career series deadlocked at 22 wins apiece, and for a place in the title match in Melbourne for the first time since claiming his fourth trophy in 2010.
The ageless champion is oozing confidence after breaking Berdych almost at will and crunching 46 winners to romp into the semi-finals for the 12th time in 13 years.
“I’m very, very happy. Tomas has caused me a lot of problems over the years,” Federer said.
“He’s one of the guys who makes you a better player. He’s beaten me around the world on the biggest courts.
“I played a great match.”
Turning 35 in August, the father of four is making no secret about what it would mean to land an 18th major, three-and-a-half years after collecting his 17th at Wimbledon.
“It would mean a lot to me, no doubt about it,” he said.
“It’s part of the reason why I’m still playing.
“I feel like I’m competitive at the top. I can beat all the guys on tour.
“It’s nice now that in the last three slams that I’ve been as consistent as I have been.
“I’m playing good tennis, fun tennis for me anyway. I really enjoy being able to come to the net more like back in the day.
“So I’m very pleased.”
There was no indication early on Tuesday that it would be so easy for Federer.
Berdych made a dream start, breaking Federer in the opening game.
But it didn’t take the Swiss long to warm to the task, striking straight back before rolling through the tiebreaker and gaining an early break in the second set to assume complete control.
Toying with Berdych by now, Federer lured Berdych forward and curled a ridiculous forehand pass around the big Czech to bring up another break point, then stormed the net himself to convert for a 5-2 buffer.
He made no mistake closing out the set before dropping serve in his only real lapse to ever so briefly offer Berdych a glimmer of hope.
A semi-finalist the past two years, Berdych was unable to capitalise as Federer again hit right back before finishing the world No.6 in three straight sets.
Djokovic rebounded from his error-filled five-set fourth-round win over Gilles Simon to confirm his latest date with Federer with a 6-3 6-2 6-4 quarter-final victory over Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori in the late match on Tuesday night.