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Djokovic ends Federer's reign in Melbourne
January 25, 2008 17:07 IST
Last Updated: January 25, 2008 18:09 IST
Roger Federer's [Images] invincibility was pierced, then pummelled and finally pulled apart at Melbourne Park on Friday, the world number one brutally ejected from the Australian Open semi-finals by Novak Djokovic.
The Swiss champion and top seed fell 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 ending his bid to reach an 11th consecutive Grand Slam final. Instead Djokovic will face muscular Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Sunday's showpiece.
Where third seed Djokovic was thunderous, Federer was ponderous.
"It's unbelievable to beat the number one player in the world, probably the best this court has seen," Djokovic beamed.
"I am very proud."
This defeat was Federer's first in straight sets at a grand slam since he lost to Gustavo Kuerten in the 2004 French Open.
The holder of 12 grand slam crowns, his chase of Pete Sampras's record 14 is now on ice until the 2008 French Open begins in May.
Djokovic was simply too strong, too steady. Where Federer inched past Djokovic in the last grand slam final -- the US Open last September -- this time the Serb was always a nose ahead.
More aggressive throughout, the world number three dictated play from the off.
"It's very difficult to play against a player who is so dominant on any surface," Djokovic said.
"He has been so successful in the last couple of years in Australia and he had the crowd behind him. I am amazed at the way I coped with the pressure and I played my best tennis."
Friday night marked Federer's 15th straight appearance in a grand slam semi-final. Not once in those previous 14 has he put in such a low-key performance.
Seemingly distracted, slow off the mark and uncharacteristically cranky with the umpire he was there for the taking.
Djokovic did not need more than one invitation.
It was the Swiss who grabbed the first break of the match but it was more a case of Djokovic needing to settle than Federer's superiority.
From trailing 5-3, the Serb reeled off the next four games to clinch the set in 45 minutes.
Djokovic broke for 3-1 in the second set, chasing down a glanced backhand volley and flicking it down the line before pounding his chest with his fist.
He held a set point while leading 5-3 but Federer saved that with a rapier forehand down the line.
Djokovic received a time warning immediately afterwards but immediately crunched a forehand winner to bring up a second set point which he took with his fourth ace before glaring at the umpire.
Federer is not the type to give up and raced into three break points for a 2-0 lead in the third set but Djokovic saw them all off with mighty serving.
A step off the pace and shanking shots off his frame, Federer looked in deep trouble.
The pair were neck-and-neck throughout the third set.
Federer got a break point at 6-5 up but Djokovic held with a big serve to the backhand. The Swiss earned another a moment later with a sweeping piledriver of a forehand cross-court but again a big serve followed by a forehand winner saved the Serb.
His 13th ace silenced Federer and a clever drop-shot-volley combination forced the tiebreak.
Federer grabbed the first mini-break for a 2-0 lead in the tiebreak by forcing his way to the net but Djokovic would not be denied, punching back and clinching it 7-5 to seal victory after two hours and 28 minutes.