Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer renew their rivalry in the Australian Open semi final on Thursday evening, facing each other for the 50th time in their long careers. Djokovic leads the head to head 26-23 but it has been more one-sided than that in recent times with the No.2 seed winning five straight before a loss at the ATP Tour Finals late last year.
Federer managed another great escape to book his place in the semi finals, saving seven match points in his 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 6-2 win over Tennys Sandgren. It is now six straight five setters he has won but it was a performance way below par for most of the match. ”You’ve got to get lucky sometimes,” A relieved Federer said afterwards. “I was just hoping that maybe he wasn’t going to smash a winner, if he misses one or two [match points], who knows what’s going to happen? I think I got incredibly lucky today.
Djokovic could have been in danger against a surging Milos Raonic but made the Canadian look quite ordinary in his 6-4 6-3 7-6 win. He was impressive on return with a sizable amount of return points on second serve but may be disappointed with going just 2/16 on break point chances. “I felt great on the court and I was very focused,” Djokovic said. “The first couple of sets went exactly how I wanted them to go, with one break in each set. I felt comfortable in serving. I felt my return was key, how many balls I could get back into place, and the second key was hitting my spots.”
Federer has been lucky to escape from two very tricky situations in the tournament so far but his luck is bound to run out on this one. Djokovic is rounding into form at the right time and should find this one fairly straight forward unless his opponent comes up with one of the matches of his career. The Wimbledon final will be weighing heavy on the mind of Federer, who will be ruing his inability to close out in one of the last realistic chances he will have to win at a slam against one of his biggest rivals. “This is my favorite court, I mean, the court where I had the most success in my career. Hopefully things can come together for me in a positive way on Thursday and I can have a chance to win.” Djokovic said.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in straight sets