Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Federer Taken Apart as Djokovic Races into Final; Stretching a Point: Roger Federer Had Seemed Invincible in Australia but Novak Djokovic (below) Rarely Looked in Trouble Today

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Federer Taken Apart as Djokovic Races into Final; Stretching a Point: Roger Federer Had Seemed Invincible in Australia but Novak Djokovic (below) Rarely Looked in Trouble Today

Article excerpt

Byline: Warwick Jordan

ROGER FEDERER'S invincibility at Melbourne Park was pierced, pummelledand finally pulled apart today as his dreams of a third successive AustralianOpen triumph were left in tatters by Serbia's Novak Djokovic.

The world No1 and top seed suffered a 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 defeat, ending his bid toreach an 11th consecutive Grand Slam final. Instead, third seed Djokovic willface muscular Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Sunday's showpiece.

Where Djokovic was thunderous, Federer was ponderous. He grimaced or hung hishead as his groundstrokes and feathery drop shots lacked their usual punch andaccuracy, or deserted him entirely.

"I think he made the more important points," said Federer. "You can't alwaysplay your best. 'There is no doubt I have played better.

"I've created a monster that I need to win every tournament. Still, thesemifinals isn't bad. There is some sort of a disappointment. The way I tried,that's all I could give.

"When you give 100 per cent, you're sort of happy with your performance.

It can't always go your way." Despite having beaten Federer only once in sixprevious meetings, Djokovic was far from intimidated.

"It's unbelievable to beat the top player in the world, probably the best thiscourt has seen," said the Serb with a huge smile across his face. "I am veryproud." This defeat was Federer's first straight-sets defeat at a Slam since helost to Gustavo Kuerten in the 2004 French Open. The holder of 12 Slam crowns,his chase of Pete Sampras's record 14 is now on ice until the French Openbegins in May. Djokovic was rock steady throughout the match. Whereas Federerinched past him in the US Open last September, this time the Serb was moreaggressive and always one step ahead.

"It's very difficult to play against a player who is so dominant on anysurface," Djokovic said. …

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