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‘I had a 3% chance of winning’: Federer reflects on ‘horrible’ defeat to Djokovic as imperious Serb extends Grand Slam dominance

Roger Federer has said his straight-sets Australian Open semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic was “horrible,” as the injury-stricken Swiss claimed he felt he only had “a 3 percent chance” of winning the match.

In a landmark 50th meeting between the pair, Djokovic ran out a dominant winner 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena – leaving the 38-year-old Swiss without a Grand Slam win against his rival since Wimbledon way back in 2012.

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

Third seed Federer went into Friday’s match nursing a groin injury exacerbated during his epic quarter-final win against American Tennys Sandgren, and required treatment after a first set against Djokovic which he had seemed on course to win before blowing three break points at 4-1 ahead.

While Federer hung in there as best he could for sets two and three, Djokovic’s relentless pressure eventually told as he improved his record against the Swiss to 27-23 overall and 11-6 at Grand Slams.

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Afterwards, Federer lamented what had turned into a chastening experience against Djokovic, who is now eyeing a 17th Grand Slam title overall and a record-extending eighth in Melbourne.   

“Today was horrible, to go through what I did,” Federer said.  

“Nice entrance. Nice sendoff. And in between, it’s one to forget, because you know you have a 3 percent chance to win.”

While amassing a record haul of 20 Grand Slam titles, Federer has famously never handed a rival a walkover across 400 matches at Majors, and has never retired in over 1,500 tour-level matches.

But in the intense heat in Melbourne and nursing injury, the Swiss said Friday’s experience had been gruelling.     

“Once you can see it coming, that it’s not going to work anymore, it’s tough,” he said, adding: “I don’t think I would have gone on court if I had no chance to win. We saw I was still able to make a match out of it.”

Ultimately, the Swiss said Djokovic had simply been “better on the day today, no question” – as the Serb could now move one Grand Slam closer to Federer’s total when the second seed and defending champion meets one of Alexander Zverev or Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final.

Djokovic, 32, himself appeared to suffer stomach problems in the first set, and in turn paid tribute to Federer’s determination in seeing out the match.  

“I just want to say, respect to Roger for coming out tonight. He was obviously hurt,” the Serb said.

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