Friday, January 31, 2020

Djokovic beats ailing Federer to reach Aussie Open final

   Roger Federer was coming off a physically and emotionally draining victory in which he suffered a groin injury.
   The weather was hot and muggy.
   And he was facing a rival who's six years younger.
   So second-seeded Novak Djokovic's 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-3 victory in the Australian Open semifinals in Melbourne early Thursday (California time) was hardly shocking. The only surprise was that the third-seeded Federer had three break points to lead 5-1 in the first set.
   "Today was horrible, to go through what I did," Federer, whose only Northern California appearance came in a San Jose exhibition in 2018, told reporters. "Nice entrance. Nice send-off. And in between, it's one to forget, because you know you have a 3% chance to win. Once you see it coming, that it's not going to work anymore, it's tough."
   Federer, 38, saved seven match points in a 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-3 win over American Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals.
   Federer has never handed an opponent a walkover in more than 400 Grand Slam matches or retired from any of his more than 1,500 tour-level matches.
   "I just want to say, respect to Roger for coming out tonight," Djokovic said. "He was obviously hurt. Wasn't at his best."
   Djokovic, who won his seventh Australian Open singles title last year, improved to 27-23 against Federer, a six-time Australian Open singles champion.
   Djokovic will face the winner of today's match between fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem and seventh-seeded Alexander Zverev (12:30 a.m., ESPN). Djokovic is 6-4 (3-1 on hardcourts) against Thiem and 3-2 (2-1 on hardcourts) against Zverev.

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