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Hot Novak Djokovic is unfazed by Roger Federer's fans

By Paul Newman

Published 29/01/2016

On the march: Novak Djokovic beat great rival Roger Federer to clinch a place in the Australian Open final
On the march: Novak Djokovic beat great rival Roger Federer to clinch a place in the Australian Open final

Novak Djokovic must wonder what he has to do to win over the public.

The World No.1 played what he considered to be his best two sets in the 45 matches he has contested against Roger Federer here at the Australian Open, yet by far the biggest cheers in Rod Laver Arena were for his opponent's brief and ultimately unsuccessful fightback.

Djokovic, who is aiming to win his sixth Australian Open title in nine years and his 11th Major overall, won 6-1 6-2 3-6 6-3 to reach his fifth consecutive Grand Slam final.

In Sunday's final he will take on the winner of the second semi-final between Britain's Andy Murray and Canada's Milos Raonic.

There were times in the opening two sets when Djokovic looked unplayable.

The 28-year-old Serb flew around the court at lightning speed, retrieving everything Federer could throw at him and then firing thunderbolt winning shots from both flanks.

Djokovic said afterwards: "Against Roger, these first two sets have been probably the best two I have ever played against him."

After two sets it seemed that Federer might be heading for one of his heaviest Grand Slam defeats.

It was the first time for 15 years that he had won three or fewer games in the first two sets of a match at a Grand Slam tournament.

However, the 34-year-old conjured up some magic of his own in the last two sets.

After one point he was given a prolonged standing ovation when chasing back to retrieve a lob that landed on the baseline, returning a smash and then firing a sensational backhand winner down the line.

The momentum was with 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer when he won the third set, to huge cheers from the crowd, but with rain starting to fall in Melbourne, the roof was closed.

During the necessary short break Djokovic was able to regroup.

He broke for the last time in the eighth game of the fourth set and served out to love to claim the victory that finally put him ahead in his head-to-head record with Swiss ace Federer at 23 wins to 22.

Djokovic said later that he was not concerned by the crowd's overwhelming support for Federer.

"Roger is loved, he's appreciated, he's respected all the way around the world," Djokovic added.

"For me it's normal, in a way. I'm trying, obviously, to enjoy my time, to do the best that I can with the tennis racket, but also to focus on the positive energy I have rather than the negative, rather than getting frustrated by that."

Belfast Telegraph

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