Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer met for the 50th time on Thursday, and this time it was Djokovic who came out victorious, securing his spot in the Australian Open final for the eighth time in his career with a 7-6(1), 6-4, 6-3 win.
“It definitely could have gone a different way, because he started really well and I was pretty nervous in the beginning,” said Djokovic. “Respect to Roger for coming out tonight. He was obviously hurt. He wasn’t even close to his best in terms of movement, and respect for coming out and trying his best throughout.”
Federer was clearly physically drained, having needed five sets to defeat American Tennys Sandgren in his quarterfinal match. But it was actually Federer who jumped ahead early, establishing a 5-2 lead, only to see Djokovic rally to even the score and snatch the first set in a tiebreaker.
From there, Djokovic was relentless, committing just seven unforced errors and not facing a single break point over the final two sets to close out the victory and advance to the championship match.
Djokovic moves on to play the winner of fifth-seed Dominic Thiem and seventh-seed Alexander Zverev, who will play on Friday.
“Dominic won our last match we played against each other, a close one in London. He played a terrific match against Rafa last night. I watched that. Definitely one of the best players in the world. Deserves to be where he is,” said Djokovic. “Alex didn’t start the year very well. I watched his matches. I practiced with him in Brisbane during ATP Court. He wasn’t feeling his best on the court, not much confidence. It’s impressive with the way he has been playing so far in this tournament, building his game, raising the level of tennis that he’s been playing. It’s his first semifinals of Grand Slam in his career, so I’m sure that he is motivated, he’s pumped to get at least a step further. It’s going to be really a good match to watch.”