YOU can only deal with what’s in front of you, but some would suggest Roger Federer include Lady Luck on his ‘thank you’ list should he win a 20th grand slam title this week.
Let’s make it clear — nobody would be more deserving of such a feat than the legendary Swiss. His level at 36 is almost beyond belief and certainly good enough to win this Australian Open with a full-strength draw.
But when it comes to external factors and the draw, things could hardly have worked out any better for Federer this year.
Even before he’s booked a spot on the semi-finals, Federer’s greatest ever rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are gone. Fellow Swiss star and three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka also battled injury in an early exit. Andy Murray didn’t even make it to Melbourne and current world No.3 Grigor Dimitrov didn’t survive the fourth round.It leaves Federer an odds-on favourite to defend his title and his run in Melbourne draws comparisons with his last slam triumph — at Wimbledon last year.
In that tournament, Federer did not run into a fellow member of the ‘big four’ at any stage.
The same has happened in the first major of 2018 but, on paper, his run has been even easier in Melbourne.
The combined ranking of his seven opponents at Wimbledon 2017 was 232. The combined figure cannot be lower than 301 if he goes on to win the Australian Open.Of course the job is far from done yet. Federer’s biggest remaining title threat is Nadal’s conqueror Marin Cilic. The Croatian sixth seed knows what it takes to win a grand slam, triumphing at the 2014 US Open, but his win over the Swiss at the tournament is his sole victory in nine meetings between the pair.
Federer also holds a dominant record over quarter-final opponent Tomas Berdych and has never played surprise packets Hyeon Chung, Tenny Sandgren and Kyle Edmund.
A sixth Australian Open title and astonishing 20th major now appears at Federer’s mercy and he’s been gifted arguably the easiest path to grand slam glory of his career.
Then again, at 36 Federer should theoretically be more susceptible to injury than anybody and he’s now reaping the rewards of years of hard work, looking after himself and the smart call to dramatically reduced his schedule when injuries hit in 2016.ROGER FEDERER’S HEAD-TO-HEAD vs POSSIBLE AUS OPEN OPPONENTS
Tomas Berdych (quarter-finals): 19-6
Hyeon Chung (semi-finals): Never played
Tennys Sandgren (semi-finals): Never played
Marin Cilic (final): 8-1
Kyle Edmund (final): Never playedBREAKOUT BRITISH STAR COULD HAVE BEEN CRICKETER
Britain’s surprise semi-finalist Kyle Edmund is certainly making a name for himself in Australia this summer. And even if this tennis career didn’t work out he might still have been doing so — as part of the Ashes.
Edmund was always tipped by his schoolteachers to have a bright sporting career — just as a cricketer rather than a tennis player.
The 23-year-old became just the sixth British man to reach the last four at a grand slam event in the open era when he defeated Dimitrov 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Melbourne, sparking celebrations in one particular corner of North Yorkshire.
Edmund’s exploits are being followed closely at Pocklington Prep School, where his sporting prowess was spotted at an early age by head of sport Russ Parker and colleague David Tyrrell.
Parker told Press Association Sport:
“He did athletics, he did cross country, he did football, he did rugby and his favourite sport when he was at school was cricket.
“He was a cricketer and an outstanding cricketer. My colleague and I said: ‘He’s a professional cricketer’. He was the best we’d seen.He just had that hand-eye co-ordination which obviously he has taken forward into his tennis career.
“But if he’d concentrated on cricket, he would undoubtedly have been a cricketer, in our opinion.”
Despite tennis becoming his main focus, Edmund continued to participate in a variety of sports and demonstrate the tenacity which has served him well in later life.
Parker said: “We have an athletics competition that’s run by independent junior schools at Gateshead. He entered the long jump each year and he won that every year.
“He wasn’t the most elegant of long-jumpers, he just wanted it more. It was just, ‘I’m not going to be beaten’. He’d win by two or three centimetres, but you knew it was coming. He’d hit the board and he’d fly.”
That fighting spirit was on show in Eduman’s stellar win over Dimitrov. He’ll face Cilic on Thursday night for a place in a first career grand slam final.