MELBOURNE (AFP) – 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 today 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 quarter-final 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 focussed and he plays his best tennis,” said the world number two.
“He’s a great fighter. Obviously I have lots of respect for him.”
Federer and Djokovic have dominated the Australian Open for years with the all-conquering pair sharing 12 of the last 14 titles.