No stopping the Djoker in Melbourne as he comfortably moved into his 6th Australian Open final defeating Roger 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in 2 hours and 19 minutes. It was another display of Plexicushion excellence that we've become accustomed to over the years from the Serb, barely putting a foot wrong in the first 2 sets to win for them loss of just 3 games. It's rare in a match Fed won't show any signs of life and he hit back in third set to give himself a glimmer but after a delay for the roof closing Djokovic got back to business in the fourth, reeled off all his service games with ease aided by some poor returning and broke decisively at 4-3 before holding to love to record the victory.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to receive. Djokovic held to love and broke Federer's serve instantly for a 2-0 lead. The break was consolidated for 3-0 and despite Roger getting on the board Novak swept the set 6-1 for the loss of just 11 points.
With the all important first set lost an immediate response was required from Roger, he saved a break point in the opening game for a big hold but Djokovic wasn't deterred; breaking to love in game 3 and showcasing his incredible defence en route to breaking in game 5 for a 4-1 lead. Roger avoided the double breadstick saving 2 break points at 1-5 but Djokovic again held to love to take it 6-2.
With momentum fully on Djokovic's side the match had all the hallmarks of a straight sets drubbing but somehow Roger raised his game, finding a much more offensive court position to finally get some traction in the match. The Swiss still had to fight off a break point in game 5 but went on the aggressive in Djokovic's next service game to give himself 2 break points, Djokovic saved them, and a further 2 but on the fifth break point chance Roger converted for a 4-2 lead. Points were coming easier on serve too for Fed as he held his next two service games to take the third 6-3.
A short delay for the roof closing halted Roger's fightback up and when play resumed Roger played a poor return game to waste a 0-30 chance in the opener. From there Djokovic regained control of proceedings, holding his serve easily and then breaking in the 8th game for a 5-3 lead. Even a magic point at 15-30 couldn't make the difference as a lucky net cord gave Djoker 30-40 which he converted when Federer serve volleyed behind a 2nd serve. No drama after that as Djokovic served it out to love.
|Stats||Novak Djokovic||Roger Federer|
|1st serves in||65/97 (67 %)||57/100 (57 %)|
|1st serve points won||50/65 (77 %)||35/57 (61 %)|
|2nd serve points won||21/32 (66 %)||21/43 (49 %)|
|Break points won||5/9 (56 %)||1/4 (25 %)|
|Total points won||115||82|
|Receiving Points Won||44/100 (44%)||26/97 (27%)|
|Net Points Won||6/10 (60%)||22/38 (58%)|
|Distance Covered (M)||2117.2||2115.1|
|Dist. Covered/Pt. (M)||10.8||10.7|
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
The result I expected here as Djokovic was just too good from the word go. Not much new to learn in terms of the matchup – Djoker is dominating over best of 5 in recent meetings and it was the same story today as the Serb started this match in the zone. Like Koenig said on commentary it is like Playstation tennis and there is just no way through him at the back of the court. Roger hit some pretty good shots but Djokovic is impenetrable. He consistently keeps the ball in court with plenty on it and just when you think Roger might have the upper hand in a rally he's back to neutral or defending again before either making an error or getting burned at the net. Just check the stats – Fed was outdone in almost every area.
In terms of starts Roger couldn't really have had a worse one, after electing to receive he played a tense opening service game and things quickly got out of control. By the end of set 2 Djokovic had taken apart Federer's second serve (won 14 of 19 points) and limited Roger to just 27 points in the match. It was clinical and he executed things perfectly – won a high % behind his first serve, didn't make any errors and put Roger under a ton of pressure with depth + change of direction. Based on those two sets, on this surface I don't really have any idea how Fed can hope to win if Nole plays well and Fed's not serving up at around 75% – he can't hit through the court and he can't win as many free points on serve. What are his options? If you know please leave a comment.
So any positives? I think making the semi finals is a big one after last years 3rd round loss, Fed had a pretty tough draw too but came through it and only came unstuck, again, to the best player in the world right now. The third set has to go down as a positive too and I think it could make some difference to how the entire year pans out. Djokovic's level just dropped a tad and Federer was there to take full advantage which is a good sign. All it took was a few less than sweetly timed groundstrokes from Nole and Fed managed to get up the court, find that bit more rhythm and force the issue to take control. In quicker conditions he's going to stand a much better chance of his offence being too hot to handle, it's just finding those conditions on tour is a rarity.
The only real negative has to be first serve again not firing – just 57% for the match and then that first game of the fourth set. I think the roof closing played a part to halt momentum but Djokovic played two terrible points to slip to 0-30, yet after that Roger didn't make one meaningful return. I know Djokovic buckled down and his serve has laser like precision but Fed surely has to do better there if he's going to have a chance to beat Djoker in a slam. We'd just seen him claw his way back into it and give himself the smallest of chances to take it 5 sets and he gets a 0-30 window. Once that window was shut, pressure was straight back on Fed and even though we got a point of the year contender at 15-30 3-4 he was always going to struggle serving from behind against such a stellar returner.
Anyway, never fun to see a Fed loss when you're a fan but you can't have too many complaints at the outcome. Still get the magic moments to watch again like that point of the match above and that crazy get in set 3 in the game he broke serve. Never ceases to amaze. Let me know what you thought of the match in the comments. I've pasted Fed's presser below too for those who want to read it, solid delivery as usual.
Federer Press Transcript
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, yeah. I mean, maybe. But then again, I don't think that's where the match played out, to be quite honest. The match was in a tough spot at that point anyway.
But maybe with momentum it could have helped. I don't think so. We were told beforehand that this could happen. It's fine, you know.
Q. You played him many times. How good was he in those first two sets?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I've seen Novak play this well before. It's tough when it's from the start because obviously you got to try to stop the bleeding at some point, you know. Because he returns very well, like Andre Agassi. He can get one or two sets all of a sudden. Those sets run away very quickly.
Before you can really sometimes do something, you know, 45 minutes a lot of tennis is being played and it's tough to get back into it. I found a way. Started to play better myself. Made a bit of a match out of it, which was nice.
But still disappointed obviously that it didn't go better tonight.
Q. In 44 matches before you lost to him only once 6-1. He was playing great, but maybe you were a little flat in the beginning or anxious to try to do something too risky?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, honestly I don't care if I lose a set 7-6 or 6-1. As long as you lose a set, it's not a good thing. I know how important the first set is against Novak especially at this time right now when he's world No. 1. When he gets on a roll, it's tough to stop.
He's always played very well throughout his career with the lead. Even more so now when his confidence is up. Then I was going to say something else, but I don't remember anymore.
Q. About yourself.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, you know, of course I wanted to do well. Of course I had a game plan. Of course I had ideas what I should do. I couldn't quite get it done. Maybe parts of my game, maybe parts of his game just matched up in a tough way and the first set ran away very quickly.
Q. I know it's hard to celebrate, but that point in the fourth set, chasing down the lob, saving the smash. Pretty remarkable point. How does that rate for you in the best points you've ever played?
ROGER FEDERER: Top hundred (smiling). Then I got an unlucky let cord. That calmed me down very quickly again.
But it was a nice point and great ovation. I was very happy I got as much support as I did. It was a cool moment. I wish I was in a better spot in the result.
But nevertheless, yeah, no, I'm happy to pull those shots off. Of course.
Q. For a long time we've talked about how great the Djokovic return is. He served impeccably well tonight. Do you think that's been an improved stroke of his or how did you see it?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I said it before many times. I think he cleaned up his game very nicely. Whatever was sometimes suspect before is not as wobbly anymore like it used to be. His serve is part of that. He used to have issues with double-faults. I think he serves very accurate, which is important for a serve.
It's so important for me, too. You serve close to the line or on the line, it makes all the difference. Especially both of us. We don't serve 225 or 235. We need the accuracy and the slide and all that. I think he's done that very well now for many years.
I think it's definitely helped his game, no doubt about it.
Q. For many of us watching the match, it's easy to wonder whether you can actually beat him again at a major. What gives you confidence that you could if you come up against him in the next year or two?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I have self-confidence as well, you know. That doesn't fade away very quickly. I know it's not easy. I never thought it was easy.
But, you know, I don't know. Best-of-three, best-of-five, I can run for four or five hours. It's not a problem. I prove it in practice again in the off-season no sweat. So from that standpoint I'm not worried going into long rallies. I know you guys make it a different case. I get that, because you think I'm old and all that. But it's no problem for me.
But it doesn't scare me when I go into a big match against any player who's in their prime right now. But of course you need to prove yourself. You need to have all that going. It's disappointing, but at the same time I'm going deep in slams right now. I'm having great runs. I thought I had a tough draw here, so I'm actually pleased where my level's at at the beginning of the season.
Novak right now is a reference for everybody. He's the only guy that has been able to stop me as of late, and Stan when he was on fire when he was in Paris. It's okay. I wish I could have played a bit better, and who knows what would have happened.
Today Novak was very, very good. There's no doubt about it.
Q. As dominant as you have been the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and so on, since there are not any more the Nadals or the Federers in the next three years, we don't see that around, the fab four. Do you think Djokovic will be as dominant or more dominant than you have been having no great opponents in the future?
ROGER FEDERER: You have to be careful how you phrase a question. You don't want to be rude to the other players because you have to face them. I don't have to face them. I don't ask them stupid questions like that.
I think there's a lot of good players on the tour. I'll tell you that. I think it's hard to keep up that level of play. What he's been doing is amazing. I was very happy how I've been able to keep up my level. Is it better or not? I don't know.
I think we're both, all of us, with Rafa, Novak, me, Murray, you name it, Stan, we're all very happy with our careers. Of course, you can argue all these cases. We're trying our best, you know, everybody. I think we'll all walk away very happy that we were as successful as we were.
Q. What do you think you were doing better in the last two sets that could have maybe turned this match around?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, he definitely maybe dropped his level of play just ever so slightly. But that's all it takes, you know. It's not easy to keep playing the way he was playing. You can't read all the serves all the time. I started to get a few more free points. I started to get more opportunities on his service games, as well.
Yeah, you know, just get into the match. Doesn't take much. Margins are small out there. Even in a match like tonight where the first two sets run away. You can't get discouraged. You have to keep going, stay aggressive. I think my game started to come more and more.
My rhythm, my timing, all that, was a bit off in the beginning. He took advantage of that and did an unbelievable job for a long, long time tonight.
Q. The first two sets, do you think that's the highest level he's played against you?
ROGER FEDERER: I said it before. I think he's played this well against me in the past. He's a great front-runner. He starts swinging freely. Usually does it towards the end of the match, obviously when he's in the lead. It's rare for him to do that early on.
But the problem is for me, he got the early break and started to feel very free and very good on the night. There was no wind. There was nothing there that could stop him really, other than my playing. That made it tough for me. But great effort by him to open up early really, to be quite honest.
Q. You mentioned the standing ovation you got when you hit that point. You also had a standing ovation in the beginning of the third set. How much did the crowd help you turn things around?
ROGER FEDERER: Definitely parts as well, you know. I talk about it every time, especially at the end of a tournament, how thankful I am for the crowd. It is an incredible run. It's a big part of why I'm still playing today.
I spent a lot of hours on the practice courts, you know, for exactly moments like these where you feel like you're appreciated, you're being pushed forward, they want to see you win, and all that.
I wish I could have one more chance to play another match here this week, but I don't. So of course I'm disappointed maybe for parts of my fans and also for myself.
Definitely walk away from a place like this and say, I want to come back next year. I want to relive it again. No problem to hit the practice courts. Can't wait for the next tournament. You know, everything's easier when you have a crowd like that. I felt that again tonight.