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Roger Federer reaches Aussie semis with win over Tomas Berdych

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Federer sails into semis (2:28)

Roger Federer defeats Tomas Berdych 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the semifinals at the Australian Open. (2:28)

MELBOURNE -- Roger Federer has plenty to celebrate -- and not just because it's Australia Day.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion handed No. 6 Tomas Berdych a 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4 beating to advance to the Australian Open semifinals for the 12th time in the past 13 years.

His reward? A 45th meeting with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who beat a Kei Nishikori in straight sets, on Thursday night.

At 34 years, 176 days, Federer is the oldest Aussie Open semifinalist since Colin Dibley in 1979.

The key number in this one: Federer was 24-of-29 on net approaches. Afterward, he reflected on his efficiency.

"You know, looking at the stats, it's an easy thing," Federer said. "I mean, I do feel really good at net since a few years now. It's where it all sort of started for me when I came on tour. I know how it works up there. I still think there's room [for] improvement.

"Every player manages to defend or pass it differently. The question is: Do you come in off a low ball because you're being dragged in, or are you coming in on your terms? Yeah, how do these people return?"

There were some tense moments early on. Down a break early in the first, the third-seeded Federer immediately broke Berdych back and eventually won a well-played tiebreaker.

From there, Federer went into quick-strike mode and played a flawless second set. The third was more competitive. But at 4-4, Federer stretched Berydch out wide with a terrific backhand down the line that the Czech couldn't return, and that was the final break of the match.

Perhaps symbolically, Federer ended the 2-hour, 16-minute bout with a crushing overhead that Berdych could only watch.

"Yeah, I think the first set was tough," Federer said. "It was the one that took the longest, had the most importance of all the sets, in my opinion. It was definitely key to the rest of the match, I think.

"It maybe might've taken some energy out of Tomas. Who knows? If not physical, also mental. It's always tough to lose the first set in best-of-five in a 'breaker in my opinion."

Federer and Berdych have a long history, having met at each Grand Slam, two Olympic Games and the Davis Cup. The Swiss star has now won five straight in the rivalry.

The fifth-ranked Czech has booming serves and groundstrokes of equal velocity, but his downfall Tuesday came via his inability to win clutch points.

Case in point: At 3-2 in the third set, Berdych had multiple shots to go up a break at 15-40, but he couldn't withstand a couple crisp serves from Federer. Then Berdych hit a poor approach shot that his opponent returned for a clean winner.

"I mean, when you break him and then you lose your serve right after, that's definitely not a thing that's going to help," Berdych said. "But as I said, you know, he was playing really well, quite aggressive and especially without any easy mistakes.

"I mean, when you don't get any single point, you know, then it's a bit difficult. I'm not asking, like, to have all the points for free, but it's something that you can build on and maybe you can take a little advantage or momentum from that. But he was just too good today."

How well has Federer played in the past year? He has not lost a match against a top-10 player not named Djokovic since the quarterfinals of the French Open (Stan Wawrinka) the past May.

For Federer, this was his final day match of the tournament, which could be an issue in his next encounter.

"Yeah, you have to string rackets harder during the day -- be more careful hitting shots," he said. "At night, you have much more time. It makes a big difference. There will be a lot more running in the next match."