World No. 3 Novak Djokovic handed former No. 1 Roger Federer a straight-set defeat, 7-6(3), 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday in a match filled with tension and riotous cheering from an appreciative Melbourne crowd.
Djokovic eeked-out the first set before Federer jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the second set, but failed to hold his ground as the Serbian ripped off the next five games and the second set.
Down two sets to none, Mr. Nice Federer disappeared, and Hardcore Roger reared his head. Federer appeared to talk to Djokovic during the Serb’s service preparation as Djokovic went into his extensive pre-service ball bouncing. Federer glared at Djokovic’s player box and complained to the chair umpire about excessive cheering, talking and noise. After losing the second set, perhaps to get in the Serb’s head, Federer took a rare bathroom break.
Djokovic had a huge service hold to begin the third set, surviving multiple break points during a 13-minute game, then immediately broke the Swiss for a 2-1 lead. Federer continued conversations with the chair umpire on changeovers, complaining about Djokovic taking too much time between serves.
Federer then came out and took a 30-0 lead on Djokovic’s serve, but the Serb stormed back with four straight points for a 3-1 lead. Serving at 4-3, Djokovic erased a break point with an ace and fought on during a long game that ended with the Swiss breaking back for 4-4.
Djokovic immediately broke back for a 5-4 lead, and displayed an overpowering serve in the final game, with the Swiss fighting off two match points, to clinch victory.
“It’s really one of the best matches I’ve played in a while,” Djokovic said. “I had to take my chances. I was up a break in the second set and in 20 seconds I was down 5-2…I allowed Roger to step in, and he changed his tactics, he got the best out of it. He was in control, for a while…I was aware that this was the court where I could beat him, where I did it before when I won the title.”
Djokovic in the final will face the winner of Friday’s semifinal featuring No. 5 Andy Murray vs. No. 7 David Ferrer.
The men’s doubles final will be the top-seeded Bryan brothers against the No. 3-seeded Indian pair of Mahash Bhupathi and Leander Paes, who in the semis defeated No. 2 seed Max “The Beast” Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3.
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From AAP on Aussie Davis Cup captain Patrick Rafter reportedly getting ”buds” Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic to play Davis Cup together: “Rookie captain Pat Rafter believes Australia’s Davis Cup team can cause “some real damage” with Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic joining forces in 2011. If Rafter has his way, the one-time adversaries will “absolutely” be on deck for Australia’s thankless trip to China or Taiwan in July. For the fourth straight year — but first under Rafter’s leadership — Australia will begin the long journey back to the World Group with an inglorious Asia-Oceania group playoff. But after advising Tomic to leave his ego at the door, Rafter is confident Hewitt will let bygones be bygones and welcome his 18-year-old heir apparent into the fold for the good of the team.”…Vera Zvonareva has extended her sponsorship deal with Prince…Alright Justine, take a break, but you know you’ll be welcomed back again. ‘Hey, this elbow feels pretty good — and I just watched Li Na win a Grand Slam…hmmm.’…The classy Rafael Nadal after his loss to David Ferrer, speaking to the media: “But you know what, for me is difficult come here and speak about. In Doha I wasn’t healthy. Today I have another problem. Seems like I always have problems when I lose, and I don’t want to have this image, no? I prefer don’t talk about that today. If you can respect that, will be a very nice thing for me. Thank you.”…Li Na, speaking to CNN, when asked if she will study her next opponent: “No, this is my husband’s [who is her coach] job. I will just relax and watch TV, that’s all.” When Na split with coach Thomas Hogstedt, who is now coaching Maria Sharapova, she decided that her husband was her best coaching option. As a child she was a badminton player, and didn’t take up tennis until age 9. She essentially quit tennis for two years in the late 2000′s before taking it up again…Tennis Week magazine killer IMG has signed Russian player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova…Headline of the Day from the AP: “Brett Favre of tennis? Henin again says she’ll retire”…From a letter to SI.com’s Jon Wertheim’s mailbag: “Watching the Fed-Wawrinka match on ESPN and find Chris Fowler mocking of Wawrinka’s play is unprofessional and disrespectful. He actually called Wawrinka a “Tomato Can.” It’s not so easy to play Fed and sometimes you have a bad day. Fowler’s job is to make the match more interesting. Shame on him.” Wertheim’s response: “Agree. This was completely excessive.”…American Lauren Davis, who turned pro prior to her main draw beating at the Aussie Open, was beaten in the third round of the junior event by Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-0, 6-3. If she hasn’t taken the cash yet, can she un-turn pro and go to college?…The French media is reporting that Aravane Rezai’s father and her boyfriend got into it prior to her first-round loss at the Australian Open, and the WTA ban is aimed at the Frenchwoman’s reportedly-abusive father, who also has a history of blow-ups with French tennis authorities. The WTA is calling the ban a “serious safety matter” and has involved the police…From the Canadian Press: “Serena tweeted from home Sunday that she wasn’t feeling well from a cold. “My throat feels raw. every time I take a sip of sumthin it feels like i just swallowed 20,000 mini knives,” said Serena, who keeps a running public conversation with herself on Twitter.”
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