Melbourne: Third seed Novak Djokovic stunned defending champion Roger Federer 7-6 7-5 6-4 to reach his second Australian Open final on Thursday after a match of high emotion and drama.
The hard-hitting Serb, who captured his only grand slam title to date in Melbourne three years ago, piled more misery on Federer after beating the Swiss master in five sets in last year’s U.S. Open semi-finals.
“I was feeling extreme pressure,” Djokovic said in a courtside interview after making it to his fourth grand slam final.
“It’s one of the best matches I have played in a while. I had to take my chances. Second set I was 5-2 down. If I had lost that set God knows what direction the match would go.”
Second seed Federer, looking to add to his record 16 major titles with a fifth Australian Open, paid dearly for playing a passive first-set tiebreak, Djokovic tearing through it 7-3.
Federer choked while serving at 5-3 in the second set, a fired-up Djokovic roaring back to seize complete control of the match by crunching a double-fisted backhand down the line.
Serbia’s Davis Cup hero broke Federer for 2-1 in the third set, but the former world number one clawed his way back to 4-4 with a threaded forehand down the line.
It proved only a temporary respite for Federer, who immediately surrendered his serve again, and Djokovic closed out with a big serve Federer could only dump into the net after exactly three hours.
Federer’s defeat left him without one of the four grand slam titles for the first time since 2003 when he won his first major at Wimbledon.
Djokovic will face either Britain’s Andy Murray, the fifth seed, or Spanish seventh seed David Ferrer, conqueror of world number one Rafa Nadal, in Sunday’s final.
“I look forward to watching (the second men’s semi-final) from my bed with some popcorn,” said Djokovic.