Sorcerer Federer teaches apprentice harsh lesson

By Alastair Himmer

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Roger Federer flattened his close friend Stanislas Wawrinka 6-1 6-3 6-3 at the Australian Open on Tuesday to set up a semi-final with Novak Djokovic.

Holder Federer, the Melbourne second seed, brought a ruthlessly swift end to the first grand slam quarter-final contested by two Swiss men in one hour and 47 minutes.

"I prefer to play aggressive," he told reporters after moving menacingly into the last four having shown scant regard for sentimentality against Wawrinka.

"I think at crucial times it haunted me playing a bit passive instead of trying to take it to the opponent a bit more. With success sometimes you get a bit comfortable. Because it's working, why change it?

"I was always trying to look for new ways but there were times it didn't work against a few players, or I ran into a few players at the wrong times maybe."

The 29-year-old Federer, who suffered a lean spell at the grand slams after winning in Melbourne last year, credited Pete Sampras's former coach Paul Annacone for helping him rediscover his magic touch since teaming up last July.

The resurgent Swiss, winner of the 2010 World Tour Finals and in Doha in the run-up to the Australian Open, blew Wawrinka off court in a blur of winners.

"I seem to have the right game plan," said the 16-times grand slam champion after extending his winning streak to 15 matches and reaching his eighth consecutive Melbourne semi-final.

"Obviously with the many wins I've had in the last four or five months, it has been much easier."

CRUELLY LOP-SIDED

Federer won a doubles gold medal alongside Wawrinka at the 2008 Beijing Olympics but his eighth win in nine meetings with the man he fondly calls "Stanli" was cruelly lop-sided.

Ripping winners from all angles, Federer tore through the first set in just 29 minutes before seizing complete control by adding the second with a kicking backhand.

The master broke his apprentice again at the start of the third, triggering an outburst from Wawrinka who smashed his racket on the court in a fury, leaving it a mangled mess.

Mercifully, Wawrinka was quickly back in the safety of the locker room, Federer ending the contest with another biting backhand.

"Roger always had an answer today," shrugged a deflated Wawrinka. "He was just too good for me. Roger is always the same -- you know he can win this tournament."

"My focus is not on playing Rafa in the final quite yet," he said. "He still has to win matches against really tough players and I've got my hands full with Djokovic."

Top seed and world number one Nadal plays fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)