Djokovic topples Federer to reach Australian Open final

MELBOURNE                  –          Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in straight sets at the semifinals of the Australian Open on Thursday, with a final score of 7-6 (7-1), 7-4, 6-3.

Djokovic is now one win away from an eighth Australian Open title, facing either Germany’s Alexander Zverev or Austrian Dominic Thiem in the final on Sunday. The Serbian served well and showed great form, recovering from a 4-1 deficit in the first set, while Federer appeared to be troubled by a back issue during the match. “He started off well. I was nervous at the beginning. It could have gone a different way if he had used those break points in the first set,” Djokovic said in a post match interview.

It was the 50th meeting for the two great rivals and the 27th win for Djokovic compared to Federer’s 23. “I want to say respect to Roger for coming out tonight. He was obviously hurt. He wasn’t at his best or close in terms of movement. Respect to him for trying his best all the way through,” Djokovic said.

Earlier in the day, women’s world No. 1, Ash Barty crashed out in her semifinal match against Sofia Kenin, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5, setting the stage for a final between Kenin and Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who upset Romanian fifth seed, Simona Halep, 7-6 (10-8), 7-5. Kenin proved too tough a competitor for Barty, who despite having the backing of the home crowd, struggled to put her plans into action. “I think a match where I didn’t feel super comfortable. I felt like my first plan wasn’t working. I couldn’t execute the way that I wanted. I tried to go to B and C,” Barty said after the match. “I have to give credit where credit’s due. Sofia came out and played aggressively on those important points and deserved to win.”

Meanwhile, despite a flawless tournament from Halep — who up until Thursday had not lost a single set — the ball just didn’t swing her way when it counted most. Both women were chasing a third Grand Slam, each with one Wimbledon and one French open win to their names. Early on the Romanian’s dogged determination seemed to shut Muguruza down every chance she got. But the Muguruza showed that she had fight in her as well, taking a crucial break at 4-5 down in the second set to bring the win back into her grasp and break once more to seal the victory.

Muguruza will now meet Kenin in the 21-year-old’s first ever Grand Slam final, with the American explaining that she was grateful but not shocked to have made it as far as she did. “I’m not shocked. It’s a dream come true for me. I’ve always dreamed about this,” Kenin said. Muguruza too was trying to remain calm and focused ahead of the showdown which takes place on Saturday evening local time. “Luckily I have 48 hours to recover and get ready for the last match. We train all our career to get ready for this match.” she said.


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