Novak Djokovic swept a less-than-100-percent Roger Federer 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-3 to reach the Australian Open final on Thursday. After, Federer said he went into the match believing he had a three percent chance to win coming off a groin muscle injury.
Djokovic will face Friday’s winner between Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final, seeking his record-extending eighth Australian Open title. Djokovic owns 16 major titles overall and can move within three of Federer’s male record total of 20. Rafael Nadal has 19.
Saturday’s women’s final pits American Sofia Kenin against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza. More on their matchup here.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women
Against Federer, Djokovic battled back from a 1-4, love-40 deficit on his serve in the first set to keep his record perfect in semifinals and finals at the Australian Open, his most successful Grand Slam.
“It could have definitely gone a different way if he wins one of those break points,” Djokovic said. “He started off really well. I was pretty nervous at the beginning. I just want to say respect to Roger for coming out tonight. He was obviously hurt and wasn’t at his best, even close to his best in terms of movement. Respect for him coming out and trying his best all the way through.”
Djokovic said in an-court interview that Federer was “obviously hurt.”
Federer had two five-set marathons in his previous three matches. He took a medical timeout with a groin muscle injury during a five-set quarterfinal win against American Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday.
He went for a scan later that night and didn’t practice Wednesday. He took another medical timeout against Djokovic but refused to retire from a match for the first time in a career of more than 1,500 matches.
“Nice entrance, nice sendoff, and in between is one to forget,” he said. “Once you can see it coming, that it’s not going to work anymore, it’s tough.
“I didn’t have any pain in the daily stuff. That was a positive sign.”
Federer said he believed he still has the ability to win a Grand Slam, which he last did at the 2018 Australian Open.
“Same as last year,” he said about his future outlook at age 38. “You never know what the future holds, especially at my age you don’t know. But I’m confident. I’m happy how I’m feeling, to be honest. Got through a good, nice training block. No plans to retire, so from that standpoint, we’ll see how the year goes and how everything is with the family, and we go from there. So, of course, I hope to be back [at the Australian Open].”
Djokovic, the No. 2 seed, improved to 27-23 in his head-to-head history with Federer, the No. 3 seed.
Thiem or Zverev will become the first man in the 1990s to play an Australian Open final. No man born in the 1990s has won a Grand Slam. Djokovic, Federer and Nadal combined to win the last 12.
“Dominic and Alexander Zverev are some of the best young players that play this game and definitely have high goals and ambitions, without a doubt, and definitely the potential to be there,” said Djokovic who lifted his first Grand Slam title at 20, then waited another three years until his second. “But I think one thing that I was probably lacking a little bit when I was younger was patience and trusting the process a little bit more.”
MORE: Top U.S. tennis player leaning toward skipping Olympics
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!Follow @nbcolympictalk
🇷🇸 U-N-S-T-O-P-P-A-B-L-E 🇷🇸@DjokerNole def. Roger Federer for the 27th time 7-6(1) 6-4 6-3 to earn the chance to play for his 8️⃣th #AusOpen title 🏆#AO2020 pic.twitter.com/Hy7lu8AIHo
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 30, 2020