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Tennis

Federer eases past injured Chung into Australian Open final

Roger Federer (left) consoles Hyeon Chung after he retired from their Australian Open semi-final.
Roger Federer (left) consoles Hyeon Chung after he retired from their Australian Open semi-final. Reuters/Edgar Su

Roger Federer advanced to his seventh Australian Open final on Friday after Hyeon Chung retired from their semi-final with an injured left foot.

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Federer, 36, the defending champion and winner of 19 Grand Slam titles, was expected to win his first meeting with the 21-year-old South Korean who was making his debut in the last four at a major.

The Swiss started in attack mode. He won Chung's opening service game and, after staving off a break point, held to lead 2-0.

Chung, who had disposed of the fourth seed Alex Zverev and the six time champion Novak Djokovic on his way to the semis, got on the board to trail 2-1. But there was no respite from the five time champion who won the next four games to take the opener 6-1 after 33 minutes.

Federer got an early break in the second and at the changeover at 4-1, Chung received attention to his left foot. He emerged to hold serve. But that was the last game he won. With Federer leading 5-2, Chung called it quits after a sliced backhand floated long.

“I could tell something was wrong before he took the timeout," said Federer who on Sunday will play in his 30th Grand Slam final. Offering his sympathy to Chung, Federer added: "He has a great composure and I think we’re going to see a lot more for him. Top 10 for sure. The rest, I don’t know, I don’t want to put too much pressure on him. I think he’s going to be a great player.”

Sixth seed Marin Cilic awaits Federer in the final. The 29-year-old Croatian will start as underdog having lost eight of their nine meetings. Two of those defeats came last year at the Wimbledon final - when he was carrying an injury - and the round robin stages of the ATP Tour Finals.

Federer said:  “Marin brings power. He brings everything. In the Wimbledon final he had a similar problem to Chung. But not having a brutal semi-final, he’ll have rest and we’ll see a different Marin Cilic this time."

Federer added: "He crushed me in the US Open semi-finals in 2014. I’m excited to play him. We actually played together on vacation in the Maldives. We were both looking for a hitting partner. I told him that practice in the tropics helped me get to the Australian Open final last year!”

The Maldives tourist board has been alerted.

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