Friday, January 26, 2018

Federer gains Aussie Open final as Chung retires

   As if facing Roger Federer for the first time wasn't tough enough, Hyeon Chung also struggled with blisters on his left foot.
   The unseeded Chung, the first Korean to reach a Grand Slam semifinal, retired with the second-seeded Federer leading 6-1, 5-2, 30-30 today in the Australian Open in Melbourne. The match lasted only 62 minutes.
   Federer, who will play an exhibition against Jack Sock at the SAP Center in San Jose on March 5, will face sixth-seeded Marin Cilic for the title on Sunday at 12:30 a.m. PST (ESPN) in a rematch of last year's Wimbledon final. Federer coasted 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 as Cilic also struggled with foot blisters.
   Federer is 8-1 against the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Cilic, losing 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals of the 2014 U.S. Open. Cilic, from Croatia, went on to win his only Grand Slam title.
   Federer is 5-1 in Australian Open finals, falling to Rafael Nadal in 2009. Federer, 36, can tie the record of six Melbourne titles held by Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson and win his record 20th Grand Slam singles crown. Nadal is second with 16.
   Saturday's women's final, also at 12:30 a.m. PST on ESPN, will produce a first-time Grand Slam champion as Serena Williams sat out the tournament after delivering her first child in September.
   Top-ranked Simona Halep will meet second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the first Grand Slam final in the Open era (since 1968) in which both players have saved match points in the tournament. Halep survived three in her 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 victory over American Lauren Davis in the third round and two against Angelique Kerber in the semifinals. Wozniacki escaped two in her 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Jana Fett of Croatia in the second round. Fett, 21, squandered a 5-1 lead in the third set with a barrage of errors.
   It's also the first time in the Open era that a player has reached a major final after saving a match point in multiple matches. Kerber, who won the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, fended off one match point against Misaki Doi of Japan in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open en route to the first of her two Grand Slam titles.
   Wozniacki, 27, can regain the top ranking for the first time since 2010 with a victory over Halep, 26. Wozniacki, who announced her engagement to former NBA player David Lee last fall, leads the head-to-head series 4-2 with wins in the last three meetings. Halep, though, leads 2-1 on outdoor hard courts.
   Both finalists are 0-2 in Grand Slam finals. Wozniacki lost in the 2009 and 2014 U.S. Open. Halep fell in the 2014 and 2017 French Open.
   Also, both players are 0-1 in the Bank of the West Classic. Wozniacki lost as the top seed to Varvara Lepchenko, a U.S. citizen from Uzbekistan, in 2015 after receiving a first-round bye. Halep fell to Sabine Lisicki of Germany in the first round in 2011.
   Bank of the West and Stanford recently ended their association with the tournament after 26 and 21 years, respectively. The event reportedly will move to a new complex at nearby San Jose State or perhaps out of the region. 

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