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Federer beats Zverev to reach semi-finals

To face Wawrinka in all-Swiss showdown

Roger Federer (right) walks off the court with Mischa Zverev.

Roger Federer (right) walks off the court with Mischa Zverev.

Roger Federer did what Andy Murray could not and beat Mischa Zverev to reach his 41st grand slam semi-final at the Australian Open.

Zverev has turned back the clock with his serve and volley tactics in Melbourne but the biggest throwback may be yet to come as Federer moved one step closer to an 18th grand slam title.

The 35-year-old, whose last major triumph came at Wimbledon in 2012, cruised to a 6-1 7-5 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena and will now face Stan Wawrinka in an all-Swiss showdown for a place in Sunday’s final.

Zverev, ranked 50th in the world, had bamboozled Murray with his old-school serve and volley tactics but perhaps the surprise factor had been lost because Federer never looked rattled.

Instead, he hit 65 winners and broke six times, with Zverev managing to win only 44 of his 90 forays to the net. Federer took the first set in just 19 minutes.

“I used to like those days when they came in a bit but not so much now,” Federer said on court afterwards.

“The game has changed, courts are slower, balls are slower, I had to adapt my game to a different style. I enjoy that, baseline slug-fests are okay too. We’ll probably get some of them next match.”

Wawrinka certainly represents a formidable challenge, the US Open champion and arguably most dangerous player left in the draw given he has won three grand slams in as many years.

The 31-year-old, however, has often struggled to find his best against Federer, his friend and mentor, with whom he won the Davis Cup in 2014.

“He’s a clutch player now,” Federer said of his next opponent.

“At the US Open he proved it again, he’s won a slam for the last three years.”

Wawrinka often grows into a tournament, vulnerable in the early rounds but, as Novak Djokovic found to his cost in Flushing Meadows, unstoppable when the finishing line is in sight.

Yesterday he saw off France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 6-4 6-3 in a frosty encounter that included a terse exchange of views.

The players had just taken their seats when they became involved in a heated discussion. Wawrinka was heard saying: “Did I look at you at all? It’s a tennis match. You’ve got to calm down, relax a bit, it’s a tennis match.”

Neither player wanted to elaborate after the match but Wawrinka admitted: “You can have some kind of tension during the match between players.

“Sometimes it can happen.”

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