Against Roger Federer, Thomas Berdych looked defeated nearly from the beginning despite playing a game first set. Federer has a way of exerting early control that’s not quite visible on the scoreboard — and Berdych’s trouble ending games quickly on his serve played into the sense that a Federer win was only a matter of time. It was — as Federer prevailed 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-4 in two hours.
Federer won’t have the same luxury in the Australian semifinal. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic won’t permit Federer to own that patient, confident control that lets him dominate matches against lesser opponents. In the Federer-Djokovic matches, it’s usually Novak who plays the cat in cat-and-mouse — with Federer needing perfection to compete. (While Federer can recover from occasional loose backhands against others, Djokovic pounds them into Federer’s chances like nails into a coffin.) The Federer and Djokovic career match count stands at 22 to 22. The Australian semifinal will be the 45th match between the two men. Djokovic has won five of the last six.