Novak Djokovic is one win away from a record-extending eighth Australian Open men’s singles title.
Djokovic is in ominous form, advancing to the final on the back of a 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Swiss superstar Roger Federer in the semi final at Rod Laver Arena on Thursday night.
The No. 2 ranked Serbian has dropped just one set en route to the final, which came all the way back in the opening round against Jan-Lennard Struff.
Djokovic has the chance to make it back-to-back titles and he is feeling in tip top shape.
“I’m pleased with the way I’ve been feeling and playing,” Djokovic said. “I thought ATP Cup went really well for me, got a lot of hours spent on the court, singles and doubles. It was a great lead-up for Australian Open.
“Obviously got a lot of positive energy from that competition.”
Djokovic produced a level-headed performance to oust Federer.
Unfazed being down 4-1 in the first set, Djokovic calmly worked back into the set to send it to a tiebreaker.
In his on-court post-game interview, Djokovic was asked the difference between him now and when he was coming up through the ranks as a youngster and he replied: “Patience”.
That was evident in this contest.
While Federer was rushed with everything he tried, Djokovic was measured and found the winners that he wanted.
Federer, who came into the match under an injury cloud, was more cavalier in his approach.
It worked at times for him – he had a stack more winners – but rolling the dice saw him pile up the unforced errors.
Giving free points to Djokovic is a no-no and he paid the price.
Federer’s attacking approach had a lot to do with his health.
There were concerns pre-game that he might pull out of the semi final through a groin injury, but he battled through and gave the crowd value for money.
Djokovic conceded that Federer might not have been close to 100% of his fitness.
“I mean, obviously he was hurting,” Djokovic said. “You could see it in his movement. Respect to him for trying his best.”
After a slow start, Djokovic dictated the play from the baseline.
It almost seemed effortless for the seven-time Australian Open champion.
He played the contest with incredible efficiency.
On the back of such a dominant performance, Djokovic will go into the final as the hot favourite against the inexperienced Dominic Thiem or Alexander Zverev, who play in the other semi final on Friday night.
This was not the way Australian Open 2020 was supposed to end for Australia’s last hope Ash Barty.
The Barty Party’s planned all over the nation for Saturday night will be subdued affairs after Barty was stunning by American youngster Sofia Kenin.
Kenin, 21, showed how much of a fighter she was all tournament and she needed every ounce of it to overcome Barty and a partisan home crowd in a 7-6, 7-5 win at Rod Laver Arena in the afternoon session.
Barty exhausted all her options and it still was not enough against Kenin.
“I think a match where I didn’t feel super comfortable,” Barty said. “I felt like my first plan wasn’t working. I couldn’t execute the way that I wanted. I tried to go to B and C.”
Hands up who had Kenin going to her first grand slam final before a ball was hit 10 days ago?
Kenin is one who would have put her hand up because of the tremendous belief she has in her game.
“I’m not shocked,” she said. “It’s a dream come true for me. I’ve always dreamed about this.
“Of course, I believed in myself.”
Kenin will face two-time grand slam winner Garbine Muguruza in the final on Saturday night.
The unseeded Spaniard Muguruza is looking to add to her Wimbledon and French Open triumphs after shocking Simona Halep 7-6, 7-5 the semi final.
It is an intriguing match up between Muguruza and Kenin because Muguruza has the finals experience while Kenin is the higher ranked player.
“Doesn’t matter how many grand slams you have,” Muguruza said. “It’s a tennis match. Even if you have 15 Grand Slams, you go out there and you have somebody that can beat you.
“I’ll take into consideration my previous experiences, but doesn’t guarantee anything.”