Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Federer v Blake as it happened

Australian Open, Melbourne

Men’s quarter-final result:

R FEDERER (Swi) v J BLAKE (USA)

7-5 7-6 6-4

By Tom Fordyce

Federer 6-4 Blake
He doesn’t, and Blake’s brave battle is over. Federer’s into his 15th successive Grand Slam semi, which has got to be a new record. Sharp-shooter Novak Djokovic awaits.

Federer 5-4 Blake
Blake is making a glorious last stand, blazing away from the hip and blowing that game away in a hail of forehand bullets. Surely flinty-eyed Sheriff Fed won’t miss with his next six shots – surely…

Federer 5-3 Blake
Hold on a second – someone’s turned the music back on. Roger duffs an eyes-shut volley into the net and Blake has broken back. Is there life in this bash yet?

Federer 5-2 Blake
Blake holds with shoulder-shrugging resignation. Is that the door-bell?

Federer 5-1 Blake
Ring for a mini-cab and get your coat from the upstairs bedroom – the party’s nearly over.

Federer 4-1 Blake
There’s the double break, and Blake is a beaten man. He’s like a boxer who’s thrown enough haymakers to decimate an army, only to look up to see his opponent dancing happily round the ring without so much as a bloody nose.

Federer 3-1 Blake
The Fed serve has been solid as granite in this match. So in control of this match is Rog that he actually serve-volleys from the baseline. The Swiss flags are being waved with a confident fervour.

Federer 2-1 Blake
Every service game for Blake is now a battle to survive. He wobbles at 30-30 and deuce but hangs on by his fingertips. He’s wearing the blank-eyed expression of a man who’s seen too much.

Federer 2-0 Blake
It’s reinforced too as Fed holds with expressionless competence. How does Blake drag himself back into this?

Federer 1-0 Blake
Sloppy from Blake. His brain is still doing cartwheels after the robbery of the tie-break and Roj is at him like a jackal on a wounded gazelle. That’s the break gone.

SECOND SET

Federer 7-6 Blake
Fantastic play from Roger – Blake plays two points about as perfectly as he could ever hope for and yet still loses them to slices of pearly Federer brilliance. The wafted running lob-pass which seals the second is the sort of thing that could make a hard man weep. Blake can do nothing about a crunching serve wide to his backhand at 6-4 and Fed is two sets up. What can Blake do? He can’t play much better, but whatever cards he lays, Roj trumps them.

Federer 6-6 Blake
No stumbling this time from Blake – we’re in Tie-Break Town for a second-set shoot-out.

Federer 6-5 Blake
What a chance for Blake. Roj buries a volley in the tram-lines and then goes wide the other way to slip to 0-30. Blake sees the next serve all the way and launches into a monster of a forehand – only for it to fly just out. He then duffs a backhand off a short bed-wetter of a second serve, and Roj has escaped.

Federer 5-5 Blake
Nerves clanging like a fire alarm out there. A sensational backhand pass from Fed gives him set point, only for Blake to batter down two successive aces to save the day. Key stage of the match, this.

Federer 5-4 Blake
Oohs and aahs as Blake goes to 0-30 with two blistering returns of serve. A point later he has a chance to go 15-40 but guides a forehand just out. “JAAAMES!” he yells in anguish. When Roj correctly challenges a forehand called long, the break chance has slithered away.

Federer 4-4 Blake
“WAKE UP!” screams Blake at the line-judge, slightly unfairly, after cracking a forehand wide. It leaves him teetering at 15-40, but that booming forehand rides to his rescue and squeezes him past a lip-licking Federer.

Federer 4-3 Blake
Same again from Roj – a hold to 15 in just over a minute. Another woman stands up in the crowd to raise a banner. It reads: “Just married, but I still love you Roger.” Bet her husband’s delighted with that.

Federer 3-3 Blake
Tough hold for Blake – he pulls off one fine reaching overhead to put away a cheeky Roger lob and move away from a nervy 30-30.

Federer 3-2 Blake
As you were – Rog express-trains through his serve, not giving Blake a look-in. He glides back to his chair and peels the plastic off a pristine racquet.

Federer 2-2 Blake
Good stuff from the vested Blake, running round onto his forehand at evey opportunity. Roger prowls impassively.

Federer 2-1 Blake
It’s like the first set all over again – Blake bounces back like a kangaroo on a trampoline, sizzling a big forehand down the line to set up a break-back point and sealing the deal when Roj whips an over-ambitious cross-courter into the tram-lines.

Federer 2-0 Blake
Roj has suddenly stuck his foot on the pedal. Spotting a Blake wobble, he goes on the attack again and is at 0-40 before his opponent has worked out what’s going on. Blake then balloons a forehand a racquet-length beyond the baseline to concede his second break on the bounce.

Federer 1-0 Blake
Easy does it for The Man In Black. The cameras focus briefly on a man in the crowd doing the two-horn thing with his fingers while sticking his tongue out like a Maori warrior.

FIRST SET

Federer 7-5 Blake
Fed climbs all over Blake’s serve, wrestling the break and set off him with a delight of a cross-court volley. Blake crumbles under the onslaught and spanks a forehand way long at 30-40. Boff – that’s what champions do to you, non?

Federer 6-5 Blake
Roj holds in the time it takes to write this sentence. If I had typed it one-handed.

Federer 5-5 Blake
Blake’s first service game to love. He correctly challenges a line-biter of a first serve at 30-0, much to Roger’s obvious disapproval. Not a fan of Hawk-Eye, the Fed. An over-excited lady in the crowd dressed all in red waves a banner reading “Hop Schwiiz” and screams with delight when she spots herself on the giant screens.

Federer 5-4 Blake
Blake’s finding his range here, taking the ball as early as he can and attacking the Roj second serve like a growling Doberman. At 30-30 he lashes a forehand into the corner, only for it to drop fractionally out – and Fed hangs on with a certain quiet anxiety. Glugs of barley water for both players at the change-over.

Federer 4-4 Blake
New balls for the Blake serve, and that extra pace gives him his easiest hold of the match so far. He wipes his hands on his complimentary Aussie Open towel and tosses it back to the eager ballboy.

Federer 4-3 Blake
Fed leans back onto his dreamy thumper of a serve and lets it batter him through the game. The sweaty chap in the Swiss-flag poncho mops his brow and applauds a touch wearily.

Federer 3-3 Blake
The sun drops behind the roof of the Rod Laver Arena as Blake plays the point of the match so far, sprinting back to catch a Roj lob and playing it back through his own legs before forcing a Fed error. The crowd roars and Blake fist-pumps.

Federer 3-2 Blake
Double-quick again from Fed, holding to love with the aid of a dubious line-call on his final ace. Still, there are a couple of patches of rust on the champ’s armour – if Blake can get his sword swinging, he’ll have a chance here.

Federer 2-2 Blake
A ding-donger of a hold – three deuces – before Blake clings on. When the forehand’s ripping, he can match Roj – but he seems to have the concentration of a 13-year-old boy, and is following ripper with stinker.

Federer 2-1 Blake
Hello – Blake unleashes his bad dog of a forehand, and Roger can’t cope with it. Two rapid ones rip across his toes, he balloons another response wide and Blake has his break back. He scuttles back to his chair with determination scrawled all over his features.

Federer 2-0 Blake
Sloppy from Blake – two double faults and a wayward forehand gift Fed the earliest of breaks. Blake’s sporting his trademark white towelling headband, a white sleeveless vest and grey baggy shorts. And his head is freshly shaved.

Federer 1-0 Blake
Federer opens out with two dismissive aces and canters through the game with unflustered grace. Roger’s dressed entirely in black tonight, except for a sky-blue bandana keeping the floppiness of his fringe at bay.

0835: Lovely warm evening in Melbourne, and the fans at the Rod Laver Arena are garrulous with anticipation. There’s a chap wearing a poncho made entirely from small plastic Swiss flags. He’s worked up a nasty sweat already.

0825: Lovely little match-up this morning – the reigning champ vs the Player Most Fancied By My Female Colleagues. Jump on board for a rollercoaster ride.

In case you needed a nudge, you can also watch the action live on BBC Interactive or listen to commentary on 5 Live Sports Extra.

Story from BBC SPORT

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