Roger Federer has the chance to win his 20th major singles title and sixth Australian Open after he advanced to the men’s decider when his opponent Hyeon Chung bowed out to injury.
Chung had been hampered by a blister on his left foot before deciding to retire when Federer led 6-1, 5-2 on Rod Laver Arena, meaning the reigning men’s champion in Melbourne will meet world number six Marin Cilic in Sunday night’s final.
“I’ve played with blisters in the past and it hurts a lot,” said Federer, who looked as stunned as the crowd at the sudden stoppage.
“At some point, it is just too much and you can’t take it anymore when you realize there is no way you can come back and you make things really worse.
“Obviously, I’m incredibly happy to be in the finals but not like this, and he has played a wonderful tournament, so credit for him for trying so hard today again.”
The 36-year-old Swiss seeded second in Melbourne, beat Cilic in last year’s Wimbledon final to claim his 19th major and he will start firm favourite to repeat that result on Sunday, especially as he enters the men’s decider without dropping a set.
Chung managed to win one more game but his movement was clearly affected and he called an end to his night after one hour and two minutes, departing the court to sympathetic applause with a smattering of boos.
It was a desperately disappointing end to the first meeting between Federer and the man whose stunning fourth-round victory over six-time Melbourne champion Novak Djokovic made the world sit up and take notice.
“We’re going to see much more of him, top 10 for sure,” Federer said of Chung.
“The rest? We’ll see. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him. He’s done very well and I can see why he beat the likes of Novak and Sacha (Alexander Zverev) and all the others this week and in the past.
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