World number two Novak Djokovic defeated an injured Roger Federer in straight sets in the men’s singles semifinal at the ongoing Australian Open. He won 7-6(1), 6-4, 6-3 at the Rod Laver Arena on Thursday to stand one match shy of winning his eighth title in Melbourne.
After a slight glitch in the opening moments which saw Federer take a lead of 5-2 in the first set, Djokovic played his best Tennis to outclass the Swiss maestro. Federer was also forced to take a medical time-out due to the groin injury which he suffered in the quarterfinal match against Tennys Sandgren.
Federer gave his heart out in the first set as he took a wide lead of 4-1 before serving for the set at 5-3. However, Djokovic resisted with all his might and made it 5-5 before playing an immaculate tiebreaker and dramatically winning the first set.
The defeat took a toll on the 38-yar-old’s mentality and the time-out did not help either. His movement lacked the same intensity and the pace of the services had also gone down. The former world number one failed to break Djokovic even once in the second and third set but remained on equal terms with the Serbian for a long time and refused to be outplayed by him.
Djokovic, on the other hand, gradually rediscovered his best self as the match went by. He broke Federer when the score was tied at 4-4 in the second set which was enough to see him a 2-0 lead. In the third set, the 32-year-old took an early lead of 4-2 before eventually winning it 6-3.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion ended the match with 31 winners and 18 unforced errors, while Federer hit 46 winners including 15 aces. But what hurt the 20-time Major champion the most was the 35 unforced errors which were majorly the result of his injury. His pain was evident when stretching for the forehands while Djokovic extended his unbeaten streak in 2020 to 12 matches.
“It could have definitely gone a different way, if he’d used those breakpoints. He got off to a good start and I was pretty nervous at the beginning,” Djokovic said in his post-match 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.”