Roger Federer is happy to see Kyle Edmund and Chung Hyeon make their breakthroughs at the Australian Open to bring fresh blood to the sport.
Chung defeated Tennys Sandren 6-4 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 to follow Edmund into the semi-finals at Melbourne Park. It is the first time for 10 years that an unseeded male player has made it to the semi-finals of a slam and the first time since 1999 that there have been two unseeded men through.
Federer will play Chung after beating Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7/1) 6-3 6-4 while Edmund takes on Marin Cilic.
“I think it’s a good thing,” said Federer. “They’ve got to make a move. I find it disappointing when their breakthroughs come at 27, because then we know them for seven years. I like it when we don’t know the guys.
“I hardly know Chung. I’ve hardly spoken to him. I had one Nike appearance once with Edmund over in London. That’s about it. Maybe otherwise I’ve shaken his hand twice and spoken a few words to him.”
It is likely to be a taste of things to come, with the old guard beginning to struggle badly with injuries – Federer aside – and the grand slams reverting to 16 seeds instead of 32 from next season.
Federer said: “I think next year when we’ll have 16 seeds, it’s going to be quite different. That’s how I grew up with it. It’s nice to go back to that.
“I do believe in some ways it’s going to open some draws, but at the same time it’s going to be some really tough ones from the get-go, which I think is a good thing. Those first weeks sometimes have become really dull.”
Chung became the first Korean player to reach the last eight of a slam by beating an ailing Novak Djokovic and he followed that up by showing his class against Sandgren, an even more unlikely quarter-finalist.
“I’m very excited to play Chung,” said Federer. “I thought he played an incredible match against Novak. To beat him here is one of the tough things to do in our sport. I know that Novak maybe wasn’t at 110 per cent, but he was all right.
“I think it’s an interesting match for me. I’ll definitely have to look into how I need to play against him because he has some great qualities.”
Federer has also followed the progress of Edmund with interest, and said: “It’s a good situation to be in. He can hit freely now. No expectations whatsoever.
“He’ll maybe never be in this position ever again, to have so little expectations. First time in the semis, you’re like: ‘I’m going to tear this place into pieces, I’ve got incredible power right now’. Great effort. I’m very happy for him.”