Federer into Australian Open quarters after great escape
MELBOURNE: Three-time champion Roger Federer mounted one of the greatest comebacks of his career on Sunday when he recovered from a two-set deficit to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Czech 20th seed Tomas Berdych was on course for an almighty upset when he froze in the third set, with Federer finally winning 4-6, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to stay on course for a record-equalling 14th Grand Slam title.
Federer, 27, has not come back from two sets down since 2005, when he fought past Rafael Nadal in the Miami Masters final, and has not failed to reach a Grand Slam quarter-finals since the 2004 French Open.
He also battled through a five-set tussle with Igor Andreev in the fourth round of last year''s US Open before recovering to win the title.
Federer came into the match on the back of a sweeping victory over old adversary Marat Safin and one-sided wins over Andreas Seppi and Evgeny Korolev.
But despite winning his last seven matches with Berdych he immediately looked out of sorts against the Czech, plodding around the court and making errors of every description.
Berdych was set for an almighty upset but he suddenly collapsed at 3-3 in the third, missing three easy volleys to hand Federer the break, the set and the momentum.
Federer is seeking to equal Pete Sampras''s record 14 Grand Slam titles after starting his first season without the top ranking since 2004.
He has reached the semi-finals at the previous five Australian Opens, winning in 2004, 2006 and 2007, and last failed to reach the quarter-finals in 2003.
Federer came here last year suffering from mononucleosis and was beaten in the semis, kicking off his toughest season as he lost his Wimbledon title and number one ranking before recovering to win the US Open.
Only four other men have won four or more Australian Open titles: Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Jack Crawford and Ken Rosewall. Federer has reached the last 18 Grand Slam semi-finals, an all-time record.