Records tumble as Federer cruises into 15th straight semi
The incomparable Swiss top seed mastered American 12th seed James Blake for an eighth straight time to claim a 7-5, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 win in two hours to march into Friday's semi-final against Novak Djokovic.sports Updated: Jan 23, 2008 15:31 IST
Roger Federer secured the number one ranking for a record 209th week after sweeping into a record 15th consecutive Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The incomparable Swiss top seed mastered American 12th seed James Blake for an eighth straight time to claim a 7-5, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 win in two hours to march into Friday's semi-final against Novak Djokovic.
Federer broke the consecutive Slam semi-final appearance record of 10 held by Rod Laver and Ivan Lendl at last year's Australian Open.
"It's great being on top of the game for so long and being compared to greats like Laver and Pete Sampras, it's great being part of the pinnacle of the sport in every Grand Slam I'm playing in," Federer said.
Federer, who is on track to face second seed Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final, will remain the world number one ranked player for the tournament following his victory over Blake.
"I heard rumours I could lose it (top ranking), but we're a long shot away of 'I got to lose, he's got to win'," Federer said.
"We know how tough it is to win Grand Slams, it's a long way."
The Swiss supremo now has an unbeaten 19-match tournament run at the Australian Open, bettered only by Andre Agassi's 26 and Ivan Lendl's 20.
He will come up against fast-rising young Serb Djokovic, who hasn't dropped a set in winning his way into Friday's showdown against Spanish fifth seed David Ferrer.
Djokovic is edging closer to a Grand Slam title after squandering seven set points in the first two sets of a straight sets loss to Federer in last year's US Open final.
"He's done a phenomenal job, four semi-finals of Grand Slams at his age, I was never close to that at his age, he's improved so much in the last couple of years and it's exciting playing the best in the world," Federer said.
It was again dejection for Blake, who has only taken just one set off the Swiss in eight meetings -- in the quarter-finals of the 2006 US Open.
"James is such a great player, hits some incredible shots and he's so dangerous on any point, he's improved a lot over the last few years," Federer said.
Federer, the winner of 12 Grand Slam titles, second only to Sampras' 14, has ruled men's tennis for four years and has been a constant in the last 10 major finals.
Both players exchanged service breaks early in the opening set and Blake was in the match before a forehand error on set point handed Federer the first set.
It was the same again in the second with services exchanged but Blake came under pressure on his service and fought off break points in the eighth and two set points in the 10th before the set went to a tiebreaker.
Again the world number one better handled the pressure points and two mini-breaks presented him with four set points at 6-2.
Blake saved three before Federer sent down a thunderbolt serve to the American's backhand to win the tiebreaker and seize a 2-0 lead.
"There were two really tough points in a row in the tiebreaker. James played them to perfection and I was a bit lucky to get the ball back and get back into the points and they were key moments," Federer said.
Federer kept the pressure on Blake with a service in the opening game of the final set, with Blake overhitting a backhand.
He broke Blake again in the fifth but was broken as he served for the match at 5-2.
The Swiss held two match points and clinched victory when Blake's backhand sailed over the baseline.