Federer rolls along
Defending champ breezes into semis
MELBOURNE — Defending champion Roger Federer advanced to the Australian Open semifinals with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 win over Stanislas Wawrinka today in a mismatch that had the intensity of a practice session.
Federer, aiming to become the first man to win five Australian titles, was playing in his record-tying 27th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal.
No. 19 Wawrinka was playing at this stage for only the second time at a major and struggled against Federer in the first all-Swiss quarterfinal at a Grand Slam. He had only beaten Federer once in their seven previous matches.
Wawrinka had only one look at a break chance against the 16-time Grand Slam winner. Federer cashed in on five of his seven chances.
Wawrinka received a code violation for smashing his racket into the ground, shattering the frame, after falling behind, 2-0, in the third. His intensity picked up, but it was too late.
“I obviously played Stan many times in practice and in matches, maybe a bit of a battle for him to get used to the conditions,’’ Federer said. “I had to fight extremely hard and I thought Stan played an amazing tournament.’’
Wawrinka was on a nine-match winning streak, including a straight-sets win over former No. 1-ranked Andy Roddick in the fourth round.
Federer plays the winner of the match between No. 3 Novak Djokovic and Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych. Federer’s last two Grand Slam losses have come against them — against Berdych at Wimbledon and Djokovic at the US Open. Djokovic also beat Federer in the semifinals here in 2008 before going on to win the title.
For Federer, the match will be more about making the final than seeking revenge.
“I got them back a couple of times at the end of the year,’’ he said. “I don’t feel like I need to get back at them necessarily, but I’m not just going to come out here and give them the match.’’
On the women’s side, Li Na beat Andrea Petkovic, 6-2, 6-4, to reach the semifinals for the second straight year.
Li broke her German rival’s serve three times in the first set and twice in the second, recovering an early break in each set and playing more consistently than Petkovic.
Li lost the 2010 semifinal in two tiebreak sets to eventual champion Serena Williams.
“It’s good for me — second time in a Grand Slam semifinal always in Australian Open,’’ Li said. “Hopefully I can do better in this year. I don’t want to lose in semis again.’’
The 28-year-old Li was the only quarterfinalist from the last Australian Open to reach the last eight this year.
She extended her winning streak to 10 matches, including her title run at the tuneup tournament in Sydney, where she became the first Chinese player to win a WTA Premier singles title.
Rafael Nadal is on a 25-match winning streak in Grand Slam tournaments and is focusing on his “Rafa Slam’’ right now. He was more comfortable talking about his 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 fourth-round win over Marin Cilic than his modeling work for Armani.
Nadal already holds the French, Wimbledon, and US Open crowns and is three wins from an Australian title. Nobody has held all four men’s majors at once since Rod Laver in a calendar year in 1969.
He next plays fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, who fended off big-serving 20-year-old Canadian qualifier Milos Raonic, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.
In the previous round, Nadal had complained that a virus he picked up two weeks ago in Qatar left him weak and caused him to sweat more than usual.
“The two other days I was sweating like crazy and I felt very tired when I played the match,’’ he said. “Today was the first day that I felt perfect physically. So that is the most important thing.’’
Andy Murray, the last man to beat Nadal at a major — in their quarterfinal here last year — made only 10 unforced errors in a 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 11 Jurgen Melzer. In the quarterfinals, he’ll meet Alexandr Dolgopolov, who defeated French Open finalist and fourth-seeded Robin Soderling, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
For the women, No. 3 Kim Clijsters wasted plenty of chances to break Ekaterina Makarova before winning, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, while No. 2 Vera Zvonareva kept rolling toward a possible third consecutive Grand Slam final with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Iveta Benesova.
Zvonareva, who lost the US Open final to Clijsters last year, moved into a quarterfinal against No. 25 Petra Kvitova, who rallied past No. 22 Flavia Pennetta, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
No. 12 Agnieszka Radwanska beat China’s Peng Shuai, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, and in the quarters will meet Clijsters, the growing favorite for the women’s title.