Roger Federer Moves Into 30th Major Final As Hyeon Chung Retires in Australian Open Semifinal
(January 26, 2018) Roger Federer advanced to a record seventh Australian Open final when South Korean Hyeon Chung retired in the second set of their semifinal, with Federer leading 6-1, 5-2.
Just two games before, the 21-year-old Korean had been treated for a blister on his left foot.
“I’ve played with blisters in the past and it hurts a lot,” Federer said in his on-court interview after the match. “Sometimes it’s too much…I could tell something was wrong before he took the injury time out.”
“I knew he had problems with his feet, he’s been limping in the locker room for the last few days.”
Chung ranked No. 58 before the tournament began, will see his ranking rise to 29 next week. He won the ATP’s Next Gen Finals last year.
“I think Chung will be a very good player, but let’s not put too much pressure on him,” Federer said to media. “He’s strong mentally, but I remember when they said to me I’d be world No. 1, it was not easy to handle.”
Defending champion Federer moves into the final where the Swiss will take on sixth seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, a rematch of last year’s Wimbledon final.
“Clearly I’m happy to be in the final but not like this. He’s had such a wonderful tournament.”
“I’m just happy I’m in the finals, to be honest,” Federer said in his news conference. That was the goal before the match today. I was able to get there. Not under the circumstances I was hoping to or not planning with. But I played a good match. He struggled clearly with his movement. I was able to take advantage of that.
“So for me clearly it was all good. I wish him a good recovery.”
Chung described his injury in his news conference: “It’s like worse than regular blisters. Over the last few days, it was blister under blister under blister. He had it shaved off. Now it’s red raw. They tried injections to see if it numbed the pain. It didn’t work. Much worse than a regular blister.”
“Many things come together because I retiring in semis. But I think I did right thing. If I play bad thing on the court, it’s not good for the fans and audience as well.
“I’m happy to be able to make semis in Grand Slam. I want to be stronger next year.”
“Really honored to play with Roger in semis in Grand Slam. I’m just learn a lot. He play really good today. I’m just play few more in the future.”
Asked about what he learned this fortnight, Chung said: “I think lot of confidence. I play lot of good player in last two weeks. I can play, like, more comfortable on the court with the great players like Roger. I think I can play better next time.”
The 36-year-old Swiss will be seeking a record-extending 20th major title in his record-setting 30th major final on Sunday. He’d also be going after his sixth title down under. Federer leads Cilic in their head-to-head record 8-1.
Asked about his opponent in the final, Federer said: “At this point it’s not about having to improve anything in particular. I think I’ve done everything pretty well, you know. I just hope I’m going to have a good start to the match. I hope I can mix up my game. I hope I can start serving well from the get-go, not get into too much trouble early. I hope I can read his serve and all these things.
“I’m just pleased that actually my game has been good from the very beginning of the tournament so far. I mean, I’ve won all my matches without dropping a set. Clearly I was a bit lucky against Berdych in that first set. But things must be all right if I’m in this stage right now not having dropped a set and in the finals.”
“I definitely think him winning the US Open, like Stan (Wawrinka) winning here a few years ago, it gave them great belief they can do it. If the big moments come about, that they can attain this level. Not easily, but they can get there from time to time.
“I think he played great against Rafa. I think the belief and the way he played very positive made him win that match because he didn’t look good there for a while when he was down a set and a break and everything.
“Even at the end of last year when I played him in the World Tour Finals in the round-robin, I think he lost all three matches maybe, but maybe should have won at least one of the first two and stuff. The way he came out against me was very much a winner’s attitude: At least I’m going to take maybe one match home against Roger. I ended up playing a tough three-setter against him. I didn’t feel I was facing a guy who had just lost two round-robin matches.
“So I like his attitude. He’s very professional. He’s always very much the same regardless of whether he wins or loses. I like that attitude. On the court, he’s a winner. You can see it on the way he behaves on the court. He’s there to win and not just to be there. Sometimes you see other players you feel like they’re happy to have made the quarters so far. I think he strives for more. I like those attitudes.”
So what does major number 20 mean to Federer?
“Twenty times special,” he responded. “I don’t know what to tell you. It would be amazing. I can’t believe how fast now the week has turned out to be. Yeah, I mean, it ain’t just an easy trip to the finals. There’s always a lot of work that goes into it during the tournament, focus, and also preparation beforehand. For many weeks and months before, you try to put yourself in the position, are you going to be ready in case a good semifinals or quarterfinals match at the Australian Open, so forth.
“This is something you sort of plan from a long time ago. That’s why when it does happen, it’s a great feeling. Rewards the hard work in my team. It shows us that we did a lot of things right in the off-season, as well. That always gives you confidence, especially moving into the semis and finals when you’re starting to hit the ball very nicely after the first few matches where it’s always a bit more difficult.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 26, 2018