Roger Federer has never beaten Novak Djokovic when the Serbian has won the first set and tonight was no different. With Rafael Nadal injured and out of the tournament, both players were well aware of their chances in a final, and both arrived desperate to claim the final spot and it was Novak who walked away victorious 7-6, 7-5, 6-4 after three hours.
It was a matter of history repeating itself. Three years ago to the day Novak Djokovic claimed the Australian Open title after defeating Roger Federer in straight sets in the semi finals and Jo Wilfried Tsonga in the finals.
Interestingly Federer had apparently said to Jim Courier that he was trying to conserve energy in his US Open semifinal against Nole in order to prepare for a final against Nadal but despite those tactics the arrogant play had lost him the match.
Federer failed to convert the one break point chance he had but was brilliant at the net and on serve. In the tiebreak Nole continued to play aggressive tennis by spreading the court and got a little lucky when Federer’s backhand hit the net to give him a mini break at 2-1. Wayward backhands gave Novak another mini break to convert on his second set point for the first set after 57 minutes.
In the opening games of the second set Novak seemed to be edging in front of Federer more frequently as he hit with beautiful penetrating depth. Federer always able to do the unimaginable, pulled blistering forehands from nowhere, pummeling them down the line.
It wasn’t enough.
Djokovic continued to push the former world number one as he broke with a roar and a fist pump for a 2-1 lead in the second set. Federer was so irritated that he complained about his opponents eternal ball bouncing. After a terrible service game from the world number three the momentum was with Federer at 2-2.
The defensive skills of Federer were well and truly on display in a 23 point rally that Novak should have won multiple times, but Rog somehow pushed his way back in to win his third consecutive game for a 4-2 lead and a chance to serve for 5-2.
Federer stepped up to serve for the set but Novak smashed his way back into the set, sealing it with a great passing down the line forehand as Federer tried to play another drop shot. With everything back on serve at 4-5 with Novak to serve, a feather dropped from the sky, swirling and dropping right near Novak as he served. Federer tried another drop shot which Novak chipped cross court to hold.
Another feather gently floated to the ground as Novak found himself with three break point chances. Federer couldn’t defend all three as Novak, who had fought back from 2-5, took a 6-5 lead when Roger netted a backhand to give him the break. A brilliant backhand down the line from Nole gave him the 61 minute second set 7-5.
A 22nd backhand error from Federer gave Djokovic a third chance to break, a chance he took for a 2-1 lead in the third set.
Federer made a late charge as a seemingly weary Novak served for a 5-3 lead, serving aces several times to save break points, but his weight of shot dropped off, allowing Federer to break back as the net blessed him again. Suddenly things were back at 4-4 just when Novak had been looking safe.
With two break points lost Federer’s backhand failed him again and Novak was just one game away from the Australian Open final. After three hours his extreme efforts were over and his place in the final secured.
After winning under the huge pressure of a Davis Cup final at home in Belgrade, Novak Djokovic seemed to possess the ongoing and unwavering confidence that he has struggled with in the past.
This is the first final in the last 24 Grand Slam titles since 2008 that either Nadal or Federer has not been involved.