Thursday, January 28, 2015, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Watch on Seven Network
ANOTHER year, another Australian Open semi final for Roger Federer.
But the Swiss superstar ($3.19 with Sportsbet.com.au) will have his work cut out for him against the reigning champion and world number one Novak Djokovic ($1.36 with Sportsbet.com.au).
Federer cut a swathe through Czech Tomas Berdych on Rod Laver Arena yesterday, booking himself a spot in the semi finals for the 12th time at the open, extending his record.
At 34, Federer is the oldest semi finalist at the Australian Open for nearly 40 years, and the oldest in any major since Andre Agassi 10 years ago.
He had no dramas with the towering Berdych, squeaking through a tie breaker in the first set before closing it out with ease, 7-6(7-4), 6-2, 6-4.
“I’m very, very happy,” Federer said after the match.
“Tomas has caused me a lot of problems over the years.
“He’s one of the guys who makes you a better player.
“He’s beaten me on the biggest courts around the world.”
It seemed Federer could do no wrong, mauling the Czech at the net, firing off 48 winners, with just 26 unforced errors, with 24 of his 29 net approaches resulting in points.
“I do feel really good at the net since a few years now,” Federer said.
“It’s where it all sort of started for me when I came on tour.
“I know how it works up there.
“I still think there’s room for improvement.
“Every player manages to defend or pass it differently.
“The question is, do you come in off a low ball because you’re being dragged in, or are you coming in on your terms?
“You would assume that these are not stats you can keep up.
“It’s okay. As long as you’re coming in on the right plays, it’s okay to be beat.”
All Berdych could do was shrug his shoulders and admire the work of a champion with few peers in tennis history.
“I think he’s still on a pretty high level, playing great tennis,” Berdych said.
“He’s just proving how great a player he is, how difficult at this time it is to play him.
“To face Roger in the quarters, it’s quite difficult.”
This will be Federer’s 40th grand slam semi-final appearance as he continues to dominate his opponents, despite his rapidly advancing years.
But Djokovic is a different beast, on another stratosphere than any other tennis player, even of the standing of Federer.
As we predicted, the scare in the fourth round against Gilles Simon, where the match went to five sets, produced a man on a mission.
Like Federer, Djokovic came out all guns blazing and smoked former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori off the court, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
The Japanese player had no answers, giving up six break points before finally busting one out in the last set, only to see it evaporate in the blink of an eye as Djokovic won the next three games.
He was simply too good.
It will be his 29th grand slam semi final and his sixth at Melbourne Park.
It’s the 45th meeting between the two stars – they are both tied with 22 wins each.
They played two major finals last year, with the Djoker winning both, but Federer actually beat him three times in 2015.
The Djoker knows he is in for it against the ageing grand slam gun.
“I have played Roger 44 times and Rafa 45,” Djokovic said after the match.
“It seems like half of my career match ups were against these two guys.
“We keep on playing against each other in more or less every big tournament.
“It’s always a great challenge to play both of these guys.
“Roger, you don’t need to spend words about his achievements and what he has done for this sport.
“He is a great champ, somebody I have lots of respect for and we’re going to have a good match, I’m sure.”
Match winner: Novak Djokovic wins ($1.36 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Correct set score: Novak Djokovic wins 3-0 ($2.75 with Sportsbet.com.au)
First set winner: Novak Djokovic ($1.51 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Here are two of the best tennis players on the planet. They have a mutual respect for each other, but there’s no way you could say they like each other. As we predicted in yesterday’s semi-final, Djokovic came out a man possessed, after looking a long way from his best in the fourth round. And, despite his remarkable talents, that is the problem for Federer.
To beat The Djoker these days, you have to be at your absolute best and then hope he has an off day. Well, he has already had that off day – a five set stinker where he committed 100 unforced errors against Gilles Simon in the fourth round. That spells trouble for Roger. The Fed is the ageing Rolls Royce and a fan favourite wherever he goes. Djokovic is the undisputed number one and, while the crowds don’t absolutely love him, they often grudgingly respect the assassin on a court.
We love Roger and would love to see him complete a fairy tale and win his first major since 2012, but we can’t see him making it out of the semi finals. This opponent is a cut above. A straight sets loss would be cruel, but it is a harsh reality in a world where Djokovic is king and even the all time greats have to take a back seat. He has won this tournament five times and is the favourite to make it six.
It would be hard to bet against him, with only two matches to go. Should he take out the title, he would become only the second man to win it six times, joining the great Aussie Rod Laver. To give you an idea of how good Novak is, we found these statistics: He has now won 36 of his past 37 matches and is currently on a 13 match winning streak. He only lost six matches for the entirety of 2015 – three of those were against Federer – and he won 82, on his way to claiming 11 titles and three of the four majors, dipping out in the French Open – where he lost the final to Stanislas Wawrinka.
He’s good. Really, really good.No tags for this post.