Roger Federer ahead of Australian Open final: 'Playing my best tennis ever'

Clyde Nash
January 28, 2018

The young South Korean's run to the last four has been one of the stories of the tournament and he was in big trouble on the scoreboard before he took an injury time-out for treatment to a blister on his foot when trailing 6-1 4-1.

While Federer is a deserved favourite, Cilic has the weapons to challenge the 36-year-old.

Cilic is, by his own admission, playing at the top of his game and is fully deserving of his place in the final where he will hope to put on a better performance against Federer than he did in their Wimbledon showdown previous year.

In what was their first meeting on tour, the outclassed Chung could only hit six winners with 19-times Grand Slam victor Federer unearthing 26 winners in a match that felt more like a training exercise.

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"In terms of tennis, I think I see things also again a bit different, a bit more I guess wiser to some extent, maybe more laid back because in 2008 I was fighting with mononucleosis that year".

Five of Federer's six matches have finished on or under two hours and he has been on court for a total of 10hr 50min, some 6hr 13mins less than Cilic.

Federer was on course to take a two-set lead after just 62 minutes when the second semi-final came to an abrupt halt.

Chung told Xinhua news agency: "Over the last few days I've had blister, over blister, over blister". Because he has played so many matches in the row, I think that's why it was a buildup. I just hope I'm going to have a good start to the match. I'm playing much, much more aggressive. Not under the circumstances I was hoping to or not planning with.

"It's like worse than regular blisters", his manager Stuart Duguid said. "I can play, like, more comfortable on the court with the great players like Roger".

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Another opportunity to win a second Grand Slam quickly materialised when he toppled injured Nadal in the quarter-finals and rising British star Kyle Edmund in the semis. I've played with blisters in the past and it hurts a lot.

The world number two is seeking a sixth Australian and 20th Grand Slam title.

Fans were left stunned at the match's abrupt ending in the second set, and some took to social media to air their frustrations.

Ominously, Federer added: "I'm just pleased that actually my game has been good from the very beginning of the tournament so far".

Considered one of his biggest strengths, Cilic needs to make a high percentage of first serves to have any chance. Really honored to play with Roger in semis in Grand Slam. I'm just learning a lot. If I play bad on the court, it's not good for the fans as well. "But things must be all right if I'm in this stage right now not having dropped a set and in the finals".

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