Roger Federer sent a reminder to the young guns of men’s tennis that he is nowhere near close to riding quietly into the sunset when he romped to victory in just 39 minutes at the Brisbane International on Friday.
The 33-year-old Swiss maestro produced a masterclass of shot-making as he thrashed Australian wildcard James Duckworth 6-0 6-1 to charge into the semi-finals of the Australian Open warm-up event.
Federer’s amazing performance came just 24 hours after he struggled to see off John Millman, raising doubts about his form ahead of the first grand slam of the year.
It was also stark evidence that he remains a major force in men’s tennis with an utterly dominant victory on the same day Japanese sensation Kei Nishikori led a trio of rising stars into the last four.
Nishikori, still on a high after reaching the final of last year’s U.S. Open, continued his impressive build-up to Melbourne when he demolished Bernard Tomic 6-0 6-4.
He was joined in the last four by Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov, another two up-and-comers tipped to challenge the old order at this year’s majors.
Raonic rode his booming serve to a 7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(2) win over Australia’s Sam Groth to set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash against Nishikori.
Dimitrov made light work of his quarter-final with Martin Klizan, defeating the Slovakian 6-3 6-4 to book an equally attractive encounter against Federer.
Raonic and Dimitrov both made the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year and while they stumbled against their more seasoned opponents they, along with Nishikori, have been earmarked as potential grand slam winners this year.
Nishikori took less than an hour to brush past Tomic, who was also tipped for big things after reaching the quarters at Wimbledon as a teenager in 2011.
“There was not a lot I could do,” the Australian told reporters. “That’s why he’s gotten to (number) five in the world and potentially has a big chance of becoming a top-three player this year.”
Dimitrov saved two match points in his previous match against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy but the Bulgarian, nicknamed ‘Baby Fed’, was always in control against Klizan.
Raonic had a tougher workout against Groth, another big server. The towering Canadian served 15 aces but more importantly, he held his composure in the tiebreakers.
“Now we are in the semi-finals of a tournament,” Raonic said.
“Everybody that’s in that stage is already playing pretty well. They’ve gotten some matches behind them. Now it just comes down to stepping up.”