MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Roger Federer is never impolite, but he has noticed a tendency by some fans, some media and even some players to suggest his career might be in its descent.
After Federer lost the first two sets to talented young Czech Tomas Berdych in the fourth round of the Australian Open, Federer took note of what had been written and talked about in the locker room.
"I'm still surprised how quickly the mood about me swings with the media, with the fans, with everybody," Federer said after he had destroyed American Andy Roddick 6-3, 7-5, 7-5, in Thursday's men's semifinal.
"I lose a set or two sets against Berdych, everybody is like, 'Oh my God, he's not the same anymore,' " Federer said. "And then you beat [Juan Martin] Del Potro and everything is back to normal. It's just not the way it's supposed to be, I don't think."
Federer is on the verge of history. If he wins one more match here, against either top-seeded Rafael Nadal or No. 14-seeded Fernando Verdasco, who were to play their semifinal today, he will tie Pete Sampras for the lead in major championships with 14.
And there was no hint of vulnerability in the 27-year-old from Switzerland during his domination of Roddick.
The American had re-sculpted his body in the off-season, dropping 15 pounds thanks to the suggestion of his new coach, Larry Stefanki, and for the first 10 days here Roddick had demonstrated quicker feet, better movement and a growing sense of confidence.
All that mattered not a bit in the face of the focused Federer, and Roddick lost to Federer for the 16th time in 18 matches.
Afterward Roddick gave a thoughtful assessment of Federer and his countryman Sampras' 14 Grand Slam wins.
"When Pete did it in 2002, everyone was saying how kind of lofty of an achievement it was. I don't know if we thought we would see it again any time soon," Roddick said.
"I guess Roger is a contemporary of mine, which doesn't lessen the effect.
"I see Pete and Andre [Agassi] and I still get a little jittery. But it's crazy to think it's come full circle and the magnitude of the numbers Roger has acquired. It's pretty scary if you sit down and look at them and know what it takes to accomplish that."