‘Roger is Roger’ - Djokovic not un­der­es­ti­mat­ing age­less great

Muscat Daily - - SPORTS -

Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia - No­vak Djokovic is ever re­spect­ful of ‘great fighter’ Roger Fed­erer, but the Serb goes into their Aus­tralian Open semi-fi­nal as clear favourite af­ter beat­ing the Swiss mae­stro in ev­ery Grand Slam meet­ing since Wim­ble­don 2012.

The pair en­joy one of world sport’s great­est ri­val­ries and will be fac­ing each other on Thurs­day for a 50th time stretch­ing back to 2006. Djokovic leads 26-23.

While Fed­erer won their last clash at the ATP Fi­nals in Novem­ber, the Serb has a psy­cho­log­i­cal edge at the Slams, beat­ing him in all five show­downs since los­ing in the All Eng­land club semis eight years ago.

Six­teen-time Grand Slam win­ner Djokovic has also been in fine touch at Mel­bourne Park as he tar­gets a record eighth ti­tle, drop­ping just one set en route to the last four.

In con­trast, Fed­erer has lived danger­ously, two points from de­feat against John Mill­man in the third round and in­cred­i­bly sav­ing seven match points in his quar­ter­fi­nal against Ten­nys Sand­gren.

Djokovic pointed to Fed­erer’s hero­ics in that epic as to why he can never be writ­ten off, de­spite be­ing 38 and in the twi­light of his ca­reer.

“What he did (against Sand­gren) was amaz­ing. He showed me he’s one of the best play­ers of all time. I mean, he never gives up. When it mat­ters the most, he’s fo­cused and he plays his best ten­nis,” said the world num­ber two.

Fed­erer and Djokovic have dom­i­nated the Aus­tralian Open for years with the all­con­quer­ing pair shar­ing 12 of the last 14 ti­tles. Djokovic is the de­fend­ing cham­pion but Fed­erer won in 2018.

‘Pain and prob­lems’

“I think con­di­tions suit us well here. Prob­a­bly some­thing to do with court speed, feel­ing com­fort­able down here,” said world num­ber three Fed­erer, who is gun­ning for a 21st Ma­jor crown.

“I mean, No­vak also has gone on all these runs like I did for ten years. He did the same for the last ten years. It helps when you start the year off with a bang. We were able to do that quite a few times.”

Djokovic in­sists his record over Fed­erer at the Slams since 2012 doesn’t tell the full story, point­ing to their clas­sic Wim­ble­don fi­nal last year.

“It’s not like I’ve been dom­i­nat­ing the match-ups. I’ve had suc­cess against him, in Grand Slams in par­tic­u­lar. But Roger is Roger,” he said.

Fed­erer goes into Thurs­day’s block­buster on Rod Laver Arena af­ter play­ing 14 gru­elling sets in his last three matches, but in­sisted ‘I feel pretty good right now’.

He is also un­der an in­jury cloud af­ter a rare med­i­cal time­out mid­way through his quar­ter-fi­nal for a groin strain which ham­pered his move­ment. He dropped two sets af­ter com­fort­ably tak­ing the first, be­fore ral­ly­ing to come through in five.

“I don’t know if you can call it an in­jury. It’s just pain and prob­lems,” he said af­ter­wards.

“Good nights of sleep, doc­tors, phys­ios. Hope­fully we’ll find out that it’s ac­tu­ally noth­ing bad.”

No­vak Djokovic

Roger Fed­erer

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