Novak Djokovic had his game locked down to get back to the finals of the Australian Open Thursday night. Though he lost a single set, the world number one defeated Roger Federer in four sets winning 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena making it to his sixth finals match where he could tie a longstanding record.
While one continues his legendary dominance on court, the other would try to get a huge win in the seasons first major while he still has time. The two titans met for a 45th time as the win in the semifinal would once again separate the two as Djokovic recently evened things up at last year’s ATP World Finals winning in straight sets.
It’s likely that this one wouldn’t follow the same path between the world ranked number one and number three. Djokovic held the series at the Australian Open last defeating Federer on centre court back in 2011. While he goes for a sixth appearance in the finals, the Serb would try and stop the Swiss veteran from getting to his sixth final as well despite having won the Open just four times.
Djokovic proved well to start the opening set on serve scoring his first love service as Federer committed an error on the backhand. His forehand would continue to cause problems putting him down 3-0 quickly. By the fourth, Federer found some solace as Djokovic began racking up the errors on his forehand. It gave the Swiss his only victory of the set as the Serb swept quickly through the remaining three games needed to win. It was done in 22 minutes as Federer gave up numerous points to sit a set down.
The second started differently with Federer fighting back on service to force deuce. He held in on the break to win the first but was blown off his feet by Djokovic who landed two aces during his love service in the second. The world number one got a second love service game and racked on taking the next three to play for the 2-0 lead in the match. “I think against Roger, these first two sets have been probably the best two sets I’ve played against him overall I thing throughout my career,” Djokovic said. “I’ve had some moments against him in sets where I’ve played on a high level but this was, yeah, I think a different level than from before.”
While Federer had the ball, he tried hard to hold Djokovic back at 40-30 but a well formed backhander pushed the two men into a draw in the seventh game. They fought it out through two breaks until Federer was awarded a second win in the set on Djokovic’s forced error. He recovered winning his third love service of the set to record a victory in 32 minutes.
The Swiss vet stood on the edge of defeat being completely run by a man who was six years younger than him. Taking control had to be his most important mission and it clearly was in the opening game. Federer started things off with an ace that got fans in the stands cheering him on more. He allowed Djokovic a slight comeback before closing the door on him. He took a 3-2 lead on the Serb where opening the gap had to come to prevent a further tug of war to the set win.
The sixth had Djokovic losing points on both sides of his shot that put him down 15-40 fast. He recovered with two winners that put the men on a draw that would go on for four breaks. In what became the longest game of the match, Federer came out on top winning the 4-2 lead on Djokovic’s backhand shot that fell short of the line. He went down 5-2 but knew he was capable of climbing back. The Serb won the eighth but playing against Federer wasn’t going to bring him into the tie he was looking for. Instead the 34 year old penned his name as winner of the third set beating Djokovic after a break with two consecutive errors on the backhand.
The tennis superstars played 1 hour and 39 minutes before going into the fourth set where either a deciding fifth would be implemented or the Serb would punch his ticket to the finals. He began his journey sluggish giving Federer an early lead in the game only to climb back on his opponent’s problems. Things got even after two with Federer landing a pair of aces before winning it on an error by Djokovic.
The two traded off wins through six games before the Serb conducted the path to victory in the seventh. He returned to serve winning on a double game point before breaking in the eighth where it was clear that the wheels were falling off. Djokovic tore Federer apart in the ninth where every shot that got over to the Swiss was eventually killed by his own returns.
Djokovic took the game with a complete sweep that delivered him to defend his title in the men’s final. The match took 2 hours and 21 minutes in what finished as a smooth win for the number one player in the world. “To sustain that level and throughout the year to be actually consistent requires a lot more than just a good game,” He said about the season ahead. “I’m going to try to stay here as long as possible. That’s from my perspective what I can influence, what I can do.
He will do plenty in the final when he goes against the winner between Milos Raonic of Canada and Andy Murray of Great Britain, that he faced in the final last year. Getting another title would match him with Roy Emerson who is the only man to have won six Australian Open titles dating back to 1967.