Thursday, January 28, 2016

Djokovic plays a match for the ages against Federer

Novak Djokovic, shown en route to the title at Indian Wells last
year, said he played "flawless tennis" in the first two sets of his
6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Roger Federer today in the Aus-
tralian Open semifinals. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Never mind that the head-to-head series between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer was tied 22-22 entering their much-hyped showdown in the Australian Open semifinals early today (PST).
   Or that Federer has won a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles to Djokovic's 10.
   The relevant numbers are 28 and 34. Those are the ages of Djokovic and Federer, respectively. In other words, Djokovic is in his prime, and Federer is near retirement.
   That was never more apparent than in Djokovic's 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory in Melbourne. 
   "I think these first two sets have been probably the best I've played against (Federer) throughout my career," the top-seeded Djokovic said. "I've had some moments against him in sets where I've played on a high level, but this was a different level than before. I've just very, very pleased that I was able to perform the way I did from the very beginning till the end.
   "It's not always possible to play this way. You strive to be the best you can be. When you're playing one of your top rivals, somebody of Roger's resume, of course it requires a lot of focus, determination and a different preparation for that matchup than most of the other matches. So that's why I came out with a great deal of confidence and intensity and concentration. I played flawless tennis for the first two sets, no doubt about it."
   Federer, seeded third, lost in the semifinals at Melbourne for the fifth time in six years.
   "My rhythm, my timing, all that, was a bit off in the beginning," said Federer, a four-time Australian Open champion whose last major title came at Wimbledon in 2012. "He took advantage of that and did an unbelievable job for a long, long time tonight."
   Djokovic can equal Roy Emerson's record of six Australian Open singles titles. He will face the winner of Friday's match between No. 2 seed Andy Murray and No. 13 Milos Raonic (12:30 a.m., ESPN). 
   Murray, 28, and Raonic, 25, are tied 3-3 in their head-to-head series. Both won their first career title and went undefeated in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose. Murray triumphed in 2006 and 2007, and Raonic prevailed from 2011 through the last tournament in 2013.
Serena Williams displays her trophy after beating Angelique
Kerber for the title in the 2014 Bank of the West Classic at
Stanford. They will meet for the Australian Open title on Satur-
day at 12:30 a.m. PST. Tri Nguyen/
   In the Australian Open women's final, No. 1 Serena Williams will play No. 7 Angelique Kerber (Saturday, 12:30 a.m., ESPN) in their first meeting since the 2014 Bank of the West Classic final at Stanford. Williams won 7-6 (1), 6-3 to improve to 5-1 with a four-match winning streak against Kerber.
   Williams dispatched No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-0, 6-4 in 64 minutes, and Kerber outclassed unseeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain 7-5, 6-2.
   The left-handed Kerber won last year's Bank of the West Classic, defeating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the final. Williams, citing a right elbow injury, withdrew before the tournament, which she has won three times. 
   Williams and Kerber are also 34 and 28, respectively, but Williams will be playing in her 26th Grand Slam singles final and Kerber her first.
   Williams can tie Steffi Graf with 22 major singles crowns, second behind Margaret Court's 24. Kerber trained with her fellow German and idol, Graf, in Las Vegas last year. 
   Djokovic has reached 17 straight finals, winning 12, since falling to 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in the Doha quarterfinals last January. 
   Djokovic is 37-1 since the beginning of the U.S. Open, losing to Federer in the round-robin phase of the ATP World Tour Finals in London. Djokovic went on to win the ATP title for the fourth straight year and fifth overall.

No comments:

Post a Comment