The early stages of the Australian Open semi-final suggested episode No 50 of Novak Djokovic-Roger Federer could turn into a real classic, but in the end it failed to live up to the hype as defending champion Djokovic steamrolled his rival.
The duo took contrasting paths into the last-four meeting with seven-time champion Djokovic dropping only one set in his five matches while Federer played two five setters and one four setter.
The Swiss player was also under an injury cloud as he struggled with a groin problem during his win over Tennys Sandgren, but that didn’t appear to trouble him as he took early charge and found himself serving for the set at 5-4.
But things went pear-shaped for the 20-time Grand Slam winner as Djokovic found his A game and it was the Serb who came out on top of the 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-3 scoreline.
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It was an unusual start to the match with three breaks of serve in a row with Federer playing like a man possessed to take a 5-2 lead and, after Djokovic held, he came out to serve for the match.
But he started to misfire as the Serb upped the ante and was broken to love.
Djokovic then dominated the tie-breaker and it was the beginning of the end for Federer, who took a medical timeout at the end of the set.
The Swiss was now clearly troubled by injury and struggled on serve after that while the world No 2 was incredibly confident on his own serve and it was no surprise when the latter got the break in game 10 to go two sets up.
There was no way back for Federer as he was broken in game six of the third set with the Serb going on to serve it out.
“Well, it could have definitely gone a different way, if he used those break points,” Djokovic, who now leads their head-to-head count 27-23, said after teh match.
“He started off really well. I was pretty nervous at the beginning.”
Djokovic, who is looking for an eighth title at Melbourne Park, will meet either Dominic Thiem or Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final.
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