Federer, Cilic Will Meet at Australian Open Final

Federer, Cilic Will Meet at Australian Open FinalFederer, Cilic Will Meet at Australian Open Final

Roger Federer will play for a 20th major title on Sunday, after his semifinal opponent - Hyeon Chung of South Korea - was forced to pull out of Friday’s semifinal just before the end of the second set.

It was the second anti-climactic match on Rod Laver Arena in as many days, after Kyle Edmund had been hampered by a hip problem during his own semifinal against Marin Cilic. The two younger men had defied all expectations by surging through to the last four, but when they walked out for the biggest occasions of their short careers, they found they had little left to give, Telegraph reported.

In Chung’s case, he was undone by a blister on his left foot - a similar problem, coincidentally, to the one that reduced Cilic to tears during his Wimbledon final against Federer last summer.

This might sound like a relatively minor excuse for a withdrawal, especially in view of the 15,000 fans that had paid hefty sums to attend this marquee event. But as Chung’s agent Stuart Duguid explained after the match, there are two sorts of blisters: the ones we civilians are familiar with, and the ones tennis players suffer from.

“Over the last few days, it was blister under blister under blister,” said Duguid. “He had it shaved off. Now it’s red raw. They tried injections to see if it numbed the pain. It didn’t work.”

Federer also offered his sympathy, revealing that he had been aware of the problem before the match, and that Chung had been carrying it during his previous wins against Novak Djokovic and Tennys Sandgren. Trailing 6-2, 5-2 last night, the pain became too much for the 21-year-old.

The result means that Federer has yet to drop a set in this tournament. In all honesty, he has not been seriously tested. Tomas Berdych made a strong start in the quarterfinal before reverting to type, and everyone else has apparently been overwhelmed by the experience of facing tennis royalty.

Will Cilic fare better on Sunday? He comes in with the significant disadvantage of having spent 17 hours on court to date, more than half as much again as Federer.


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