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30 Jan, 2020 11:05

Australian Open: Clinical Djokovic beats Federer to set up chance of record-extending 8th title

Australian Open: Clinical Djokovic beats Federer to set up chance of record-extending 8th title

Novak Djokovic set up the chance for a record-extending eighth Australian Open title as he beat Roger Federer in straight sets in their semi-final meeting in Melbourne.

In the 50th match between the pair, second seed Djokovic had too much power and intensity for the 38-year-old Swiss, winning 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena.

The Serb will face either Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem or German seventh seed Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final.  

Heading into the landmark meeting between Djokovic and Federer, the Serb held a 26-23 lead in victories but had not been beaten by the Swiss at a Grand Slam since their Wimbledon semi-final in 2018.

Fans hoping for one of the pair’s epic encounters of yesteryear were to be left largely disappointed as defending champion Djokovic produced a dominant performnce to forge the chance to add to his 16 Grand Slam titles and edge one closer to Federer’s overall record haul of 20.    

There were concerns over what kind of shape Federer would be in as he nursed a groin injury heading into his meeting with Djokovic, but after saving break points in the opening game the Swiss broke the Serb at the first time of asking.

That was merely the start of a topsy-turvy first set as Djokovic broke back immediately, only for Federer to do the same to open up a 3-1 lead.

Federer held and then somehow squandered three break points to miss the opportunity to go 5-1 up and seemingly put the first set out of reach.

The gutsy Djokovic duly battled back to hold serve and then break as Federer served for the set, forcing a tie-break which the Serb dominated 7-1.

Federer called out the trainer at the break, heading off court in a sign he was struggling with the injury that afflicted him throughout his grueling five-set quarter-final win against Tennys Sandgren.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner returned as the second set went with serve until game 11, when Djokovic secured the crucial break, whipping a Federer drop shot past the Swiss to open up a two-set lead and leaving the Swiss with an alpine ascent to climb to get back into the match.

Federer held on as best he could in the third set but Djokovic broke in game six, hastening the inevitable in front of a partisan Federer crowd on Rod Laver Arena.

The Serb served out the match and will face either Austria's Thiem, 26, or German seventh seed Zverev, 22, in Sunday’s final.

Ominously for that pair, the Serb has never lost a final in Melbourne, winning all seven of the showpieces he has contested as he seeks to win a record-extending eighth Australian Open title.