x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Tough day at work for Federer

Roger Federer is made to work harder than expected before booking his place in Saturday's AAMI Classic final at Kooyong.

Roger Federer was satisfied with his form after beating Fernando Verdasco.
Roger Federer was satisfied with his form after beating Fernando Verdasco.

Roger Federer was made to work harder than expected before booking his place in Saturday's AAMI Classic final at Kooyong. The world No 2 was pushed all the way by the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco as he eventually triumphed 6-3, 3-6, 7-6. Federer will meet the Swiss compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka or the Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in the final - they play today.

The three times Australian Open champion was pleased to have got through, and more importantly had some time on court to fine tune his game. "It's good to be out there and getting used to the court, so long matches don't bother me at this stage," he said. "The second set wasn't the best of levels, you know. He was struggling, I think it was with the sun, and I couldn't capitalise on that, but as the match went on I think we started to play better and better, and in the end it was a good match."

Meanwhile, the Australian Open director Craig Tiley does not agree with Federer's opinion that the first Grand Slam of the year needs to be pushed back to February. Federer suggested the Australian Open could be pushed back a little bit to rejig the lead-up tournaments to possibly include back-to-back tournaments in the Middle East before an Australian swing. But Tiley said: "This year Australia has showed the strength of their lead-in events.

"There are events that are around the world as there are before and after the Australian Open, particularly in the Middle East, but we don't see them as any threat at all to our lead-in series." Elsewhere, the women's world no 2 Serena Williams suffered a surprise 6-3, 6-1 defeat to the Russian Elena Dementieva at the the Sydney International yesterday. In temperatures nudging 50 degrees Celsius on centre court at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre, Dementieva needed just 68 minutes to oust the nine-time grand slam winner and move into the final against fellow Russian Dinara Safina.

Safina took almost two hours to halt Japan's Ai Sugiyama 6-4, 7-6 and book a place in the decider. Meanwhile, Spain's Rafael Nadal and Serbia's Jelena Jankovic have been named as top seeds for the Australian Open. With the seedings following the respective ATP and WTA Tour rankings for men and women, world number one Nadal has been seeded first for the first grand slam of the year, which begins in Melbourne on Monday.

It is the first time in four years that Federer, the world No 2 and second seed, has not been on top of the mens draw. Jankovic tops the women's draw, with Serena Williams seeded second. Defending champion Novak Djokovic is seeded third behind Nadal and Federer, while Andy Murray is seeded fourth, and the 2008 runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the fifth seed. The draw for both competitions takes place today.

* With Agencies