South Korea's Chung Hyeon and Switzerland's Roger Federer during their match.

Federer Powers into Final as Chung Succumbs to Injury

Roger Federer remains firmly on course for a 20th grand slam title after easing into the final of the Australian Open.

The defending champion had in all probability been steeling himself for a tough semi-final against Hyeon Chung, but the latter looked severely restricted and retired towards the end of the second set – shortly after a medical timeout for treatment of blisters.

Chung had a brilliant tournament, powering into the semi-finals on the back of wins over Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev. The Korean’s wins were built on relentless hard work and power hitting – and it appears that approach took a toll on his body.

Although the semi-final was played in the evening, it was seriously hot and that would not have helped a player struggling with blisters.

Federer broke early in the first set and despite not being at his best he was able to manoeuvre his opponent around the court by taking the ball early from on the baseline.

Chung’s movement gradually began to falter and Federer broke on three occasions to secure the opening set.

Federer admitted after the match that he could sense his opponent was struggling with injury. But a player with 19 majors to his name has a ruthless streak and there was never any chance of him lifting his foot off the gas.

Two more breaks of serve came Federer’s way, before Chung called for a medical timeout.

It was not a pretty sight watching the doctors work away on the base of Chung’s left foot. He was patched up, but it was a futile exercise and after 63 minutes he offered his hand to the Swiss.

As semi-finals go, it’s probably not how Federer would have wanted to advance – but it ensures his batteries are fully charged for the challenge he will face in the final.

Marin Cilic lies in wait on Sunday and it will be a big test for Federer, who has looked imperious so far. The draw has been fairly kind to the champion, but all he can do is beat the people that are put in front of him. He’s done that with the minimum of fuss, and has not dropped a set on the way to the final.

Cilic’s route has been far tougher, and he has spent over five hours longer on court than Federer. The Croatian will have had an extra day to recover, having played his semi-final 24 hours earlier than his opponent, but if it becomes a war of attrition that extra court time could have a say.

Federer, who was 188BET’s pre-tournament favourite at 2.75, will be the market leader on Sunday – and deservedly so given his record and way he has played in Melbourne over the past fortnight.