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Melbourne/UNI: Serbia's Novak Djokovic moved a step closer to retain the Australian Open title after a straight-set semi-final win over Roger Federer, here on Thursday.
Djokovic was relentless, once he recovered from 2-5 down in the first set, to beat six-time former champion Federer, who was hindered by a groin injury, 7-6(1), 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and 18 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
“It could have definitely gone a different way, if he’d used those break points. He got off to a good start and I was pretty nervous at the beginning, '' Djokovic said in an on-court interview.
''I have to say I respect Roger for coming out tonight. He was obviously hurt and not close to his best in terms of movement. It wasn’t the right mindset at the beginning, because I was watching him and how he was moving early on, rather than executing my own shots. I managed to dig my way back and win the first set, which was obviously mentally important, '' he added.
The 32-year-old Djokovic aiming for a 17th Grand Slam title, will now prepare for Sunday’s final, where he’ll face fifth-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem or seventh seed Alexander Zverev of Germany.
Djokovic leads Thiem 6-4 in their ATP Head2Head series and has a 3-2 advantage over Zverev.
Victory in the final would mean a record-extending eighth Australian Open triumph for Djokovic, who has lost just three matches at Melbourne Park in the past 10 tournaments.
It would also move him within three of 38-year-old's Federer's all-time record of 20 men's Grand Slam singles titles and within two of Spain's Rafael Nadal, who lost to Thiem in Wednesday's quarter-final.
Djokovic is now 27-23 lifetime against Federer, having won all four of their semi-final clashes at Melbourne Park (also 2008, 2011 and 2016) and his past six clashes against the Swiss at Grand Slam championships.
Federer, who’d been bidding to advance to his 32nd major championship final (20-11 record), hit 46 winners, including 15 aces.
He won 15 of 36 service points on second serve and committed 35 unforced errors. The 38-year-old is now 5-1 on the 2020 ATP Tour season.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons