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04 October 2023

Djokovic supreme to reach Open semi

Roger Federer plays a forehand in his quarter-final against Stanislas Wawrinka at the Australian Open in Melbourne Park on Tuesday. (GETTY)



Novak Djokovic was outstanding in mastering Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych in three intense sets to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The Serbian third seed and 2008 champion won 6-1 7-6 (7/5) 6-1 in 2 hours 32 minutes and will now face defending champion Roger Federer, who he beat in the semifinals on the way to his maiden Grand Slam title.
Djokovic had to work hard to get past the big-hitting Berdych and once he secured the second set in a tiebreaker it was all downhill from there.
“In a lot of points I was trying to change the pace and take Tomas out of his comfort zone because once he’s in that zone he’s a very difficult player,” Djokovic said.
“The second set was very close and I was lucky to get the win in the tiebreak.
“It was a huge confidence-boost winning that second set. You are getting ready in this tournament to play long five-set matches especially against the number six player in the world.
“When I got that two sets advantage I could relax a little bit and go for my shots.”
Djokovic will now get the chance to repeat his classic 2008 semi-final upset victory over Federer, who won through to the last four with a comfortable victory over his Swiss Davis Cup teammate Stanislas Wawrinka earlier Tuesday.
“If I continue playing like this and I think I am playing well then I have a good chance, but I have Federer and we all know he’s the best player ever so it’s going to be very tough,” he said.
It was Djokovic’s fourth straight Australian Open quarter-final and he has now played in the last eight or better at 14 of his last 16 Grand Slam events.
Djokovic has now won 17 of his last 18 matches against Czech men, with the only loss coming against Berdych at last year’s Wimbledon.
Djokovic began well and grabbed service breaks in the fourth and sixth games to comfortably take the opening set.
But the Czech recovered in the next set, breaking Djokovic with a big return that the Serb netted in the fourth.
Berdych rammed home his advantage but Djokovic broke back in the seventh with a gem of a top-spin lob and a cracking forehand volley crosscourt.
Berdych was erratic in the tiebreaker and Djokovic went two sets up after a couple of forehand errors.
The Serb came out with renewed zest after the tiebreak and broke Berdych’s serve in the fourth game of the final set to go on and break Berdych again in the sixth game.
Federer cruised into his eighth consecutive Australian Open semifinal after dominating his Swiss teammate Stanislas Wawrinka on Tuesday.
It was a no-contest as the all-time Grand Slam champion eased to a 6-1 6-3 6-3 win against the misfiring Wawrinka in just 1 hour 47 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Federer could now take on Djokovic, who upset him in the semifinals on the way to winning the 2008 Australian title, or Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych in Thursday’s semifinal.
Federer extended his winning streak to 15 matches in his record 59th match win at the Australian Open.
“I definitely needed a good performance and I’ve obviously played Stan many times in practice and in matches and there were no real secrets out there for either of us,” Federer said.
“I think the start was really crucial. It may have been a battle for him to get used to the conditions after playing two such great matches at night.
“I am very happy with the way I played, I was able to mix it up and that’s how I play my best usually.”
The pair won the men’s doubles gold medal for Switzerland at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and it was the first-ever all-Swiss quarter-final at a Grand Slam.
Djokovic has beaten Federer in two Slam semifinals although the Swiss holds a 13-6 record.
“It’s not the only two times he beat me,” Federer said of the Serb. “He’s a quality player who plays really offensive, he takes it to the opponent.
“I enjoy playing against him because of the shot-making we are able to create.”
From the outset, Federer was never going to lose and he broke Wawrinka’s serve five times and won a high 72 percent of his first serves and 76 percent of his second serves. Wawrinka earned just one break point.
“I expected him during to serve bigger, because the ball travels faster through the air and I was able to return him well,” Federer said.
“On my own service games I was really good, too. I think that really set the tone for a good match for me.”
The 16-time Major champion hit 29 winners and dominated the match points 90-66.
Federer broke the misfiring Wawrinka twice in taking the opening set which lasted just 29 minutes.
Wawrinka had two break points in the sixth game of the second set but badly missed the next three points to pass up the chance, and then with his confidence down easily gave up his service to hand Federer a break.
Wawrinka, clearly lacking the belief that he could beat his Davis Cup teammate, surrendered the set with his fourth service break with a bad backhand miss.
“For sure I’m disappointed to lose, but I think he was just playing too good,” Wawrinka said. “He was always giving me some answer, and he was just too good for me.”
He was given a code violation for racquet abuse when he angrily slammed his racquet into the court and mangled it as he gave up another service break early in the third set.
Wawrinka was a shadow of the player who ripped apart Andy Roddick in straight sets in Sunday’s night match, mis-hitting his groundstrokes and failing to put any pressure on Federer.
“Clearly, it wasn’t an easy match for him,” Federer said. “I’ve been in so many quarterfinals, in this situation so many times before, that I have the experience and I have the game to be tricky for him.”
In contrast with when he was on the foot front against Roddick, he was pushed behind the baseline and dominated in rallies by Federer.