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Tuesday 24 January 2017 10:19 AM GMT
Australian Open Day 9: Venus, Federer keep fairytale runs alive rounds up the action from Day 9 at the 2017 Australian Open. READ MORE

For Roger Federer and Venus Williams, time somehow seems to stand still. It’s 14 years since Federer won his First Grand slam title, at Wimbledon, and 14 years since Venus Williams last reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open.

At 35 and 36 respectively, they ought to be slowing down but on a warm, sunny day in Melbourne, each of them continued to rip up the form book. 

Federer sets up Wawrinka clash

It was always going to be hard for Mischa Zverev to back up his stunning win over Andy Murray by beating Federer, who had won 6-0, 6-0 the last time they played.

And so it proved as Federer raced through the first set in 19 minutes, recovered from a break down early in the second and then ripped through the third for a 6-1, 7-5, 6-2 victory full of confidence and poise.

After six months off the Tour to let his knee heal, Federer came to Australia full of hope, rather than expectation. “(I didn’t expect to) play Stan in the semis, I tell you that,” Federer said.

“I thought I was going to maybe win a few rounds, depending on the draw, maybe sneak a fourth round, or a quarter. I’m happy I played as well as I did this tournament, I never thought I would be playing this good. Happy to playing against Stan, couldn’t be happier.”

The way he has played here, though, means he may even go into his clash with Wawrinka as the narrow favourite, not least since he has won 18 of their 21 meetings. “I’m happy he’s in the semi-finals but he doesn’t need to go one step further,” Federer said, with a laugh. “No, Stan knows I’m joking, somewhat.”

Fairytale a possibility

There have been a number of fairytale Grand Slam victories, from Pete Sampras’s last US Open win in 2002 to Goran Ivanisevic’s Wimbledon triumph the previous year. But surely there would be none greater and none more incredible than if Venus Williams were to win the Australian Open in 2017.

At 36, it is still a possibility after the five-times Wimbledon champion continued her superb form with a 6-4, 7-6 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia to reach the semi-finals, the first time she’s done that in Melbourne since 2003.

Williams is the oldest woman ever to reach the semi-finals here and the oldest semi-finalist at any of the four Grand Slam events since Martina Navratilova made the last four (and then the final) at Wimbledon in 1994.

“I’m so excited,” said Williams, who celebrated as if she’d already won the title and who now plays fellow American Coco Vandeweghe. “It’s wonderful to be here to start the year like this but I want to go further, I am not just happy with this.”

Just being on the court every day is a triumph for Williams, who battles with Sjogren’s syndrome, an illness that causes chronic fatigue and muscle soreness. In the past couple of years, Williams has improved her results again, though, and now she’s here, she doesn’t want to let go of a big chance.

"To me, the semi-finals is a stepping stone, just like the other rounds," she said. "It's an opportunity to advance. The tournament is by no means over. It's definitely down to the business end. I feel like I'm playing the kind of tennis I want to produce the results that I want."

Stan on Tsong 

Wawrinka is looking ominously good here again this year, his 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Jo Wilfried Tsonga of France probably his best performance of the week.

The match was notable for a testy exchange during the changeover after the first set when each accused the other of “looking at me”, before Wawrinka told Tsonga to “relax, it’s just a tennis match”.

Vandeweghe marches on

Unseeded American Coco Vandeweghe has been unstoppable so far here this fortnight and having taken out world No.1 and defending champion Angelique Kerber in the previous round, she battered seventh seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-4, 6-0.

The 25-year-old is into her first Grand Slam semi-final against Williams, a player she idolised as a child and whom she once asked for an autograph at a tournament in California.

“I think she did give me one but it took me two days to push through the crowds,” she said. “Then I told her about it when we were on the same team at Fed Cup and she said, well, do you want one now?”

Vandeweghe will not be lacking for confidence, even if there is a vast gap in terms of experience. “I think I don't shy away from a challenge,” he said. “I've always just wanted to prove people wrong in a lot of different regards.

Around the grounds

One day after they announced their retirement from Davis Cup – to let some of the younger players have their chance – six-time champions Bob and Mike Bryan reached the semi-finals of the men’s doubles, edging out Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Spain’s Marcel Granollers 7-6, 5-7, 6-4.

Quote of the day:

“I’m not I’m not Roger or Serena, where it’s just a matter of years passing. I’m incredibly thankful"

Andy Roddick, who was in town to discuss his upcoming induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Shot of the day

Federer hit numerous brilliant shots in his win but this backhand lob was perfection.

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