Love was in the air at Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday evening.
A pre-match marriage proposal went off without a hitch and, for Roger Federer, so did his quarter-final against German Mischa Zverev.
The romantic in most tennis fans would love to see another grand slam final between legends Federer and Rafael Nadal, and the former’s sublime 6-1 7-5 6-2 win made it a distinct possibility.
To make the showpiece, Federer has to defeat compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, a player who, despite being ranked fourth in the world, has never beaten the 17-time grand slam winner in 13 attempts on hard courts, claiming just four of 32 sets in the process.
Nadal still has Milos Raonic – and then a potential semi-final – standing in his way, but with top seeds Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic going home early tennis fans are dreaming.
The first set of Federer’s latest win took just 19 minutes. It was a clinic.
After holding serve in just one minute, Federer immediately broke Zverev, who rushed to the net repeatedly.
It worked against Murray but not Federer, who continually passed him with ease throughout the opener.
Despite a precarious-looking scoreline, Zverev, to his credit, never shied away and he broke to love to lead 3-1 in the second set.
Federer ruthlessly broke straight back and repeated the dose in the 11th game before serving the second set out.
Zverev battled on serve in the last, saving seven break points but losing two – both to sublime Federer backhands – as the veteran kept up his winning run.
More than once the German raised his hand, almost apologetically, after winning points at the net.
It was as if he knew it was Federer’s night, not his. And he was right.
Advice for Kyrgios from Laver, Roddick
It seems everyone in the tennis world is still getting asked about Nick Kyrgios and his behaviour.
Legend Rod Laver, who hopes the critics stop, said he preferred to concentrate on Aussie youngsters “who really are keen to play”.
But he did offer this to Fairfax Media when asked if Kyrgios could become the world No.1: “Well, I’d say no at the moment.
“But if he changes his inner self, I think he’s got every chance to be a world beater … he’s got all the talent in the world.”
On the same issue, Andy Roddick, inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, told reporters: “He’s saying the right things”.
“Does he go about it the way that I would go about it if I had his talent? No. But that’s his process.
“If he was perfect at everything, you guys wouldn’t be nearly as entertained. You wouldn’t have as much to write about.
“Frankly, we probably wouldn’t watch as much. I do think he’s good for the game.
“If he does ever figure it out, that’s going to be a fun story, too.”
On Tuesday, Venus Williams became the oldest woman to make the last four of a grand slam in 23 years. That is a long time.
‘Relax a little, it’s just a game of tennis’
A fiery exchange between Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga raised eyebrows during the pair’s quarter-final clash on Tuesday.
Tsonga reportedly became upset when he saw Wawrinka staring at him after the first set, and voiced his displeasure.
Wawrinka was heard saying: “Relax a little, it’s just a game of tennis.”
The more relaxed man won out in the end with Wawrinka progressing 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-3.
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) January 24, 2017
Photo of the day
Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Tennis matches start with a simple coin toss. Heads or tails. But this coin took a third option. Roll away.
The umpire eventually chased the coin down as the great escape came to a head(s).
— ESPNTennis (@ESPNTennis) January 24, 2017
What’s on for Wednesday
Nadal faces his biggest test to date in Canadian third seed Milos Raonic, with a spot in the last four up for grabs in the evening match on Rod Laver Arena.
In other quarter-final action, Belgian David Goffin takes on 15th seed Grigor Dimitrov.
Serena Williams’ bid for a 23rd grand slam title – which would be a record in the Open era – faces a crucial juncture as she meets in-form Brit Johanna Konta.
Elsewhere, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni’s comeback story continues as she takes on Daria Gavrilova’s conqueror, Karolina Pliskova from the Czech Republic.
– with reporting from James Ried