Roger Federer joined Rafael Nadal on the Australian Open scrapheap as third seed Novak Djokovic outplayed the defending champion in straight sets to book a spot in the men’s singles final.
Djokovic swept aside Federer 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 6-4 in their semi-final – another Open surprise after top seed Nadal’s shock injury-induced quarter-final exit to David Ferrer the previous day.
The only injury in evidence at Rod Laver Arena on Thursday night was to Federer’s pride, as the Serbian 23-year-old shone brightest in a three-hour match of rarefied quality.
Djokovic won a tense 57-minute first set in a tie-break – Federer’s one loose shot of the set to go 3-1 down in the breaker proving the turning point.
Federer then raced to a 5-2 second set lead and a long night of trading sets looked assured.
But Djokovic raised his level even higher – some feat considering the standard from both players to that point – and won the next five games to stun Federer and grab a two-set advantage.
Djokovic grabbed an early third set service break, but Federer kept fighting and broke the Serb to level at 4-4.
Then Djokovic finally snuffed out the Swiss champion with a break in the next game to ensure a second successive upset of Federer at a major following his US Open semi-final triumph last year.
The defeat leaves Federer without a grand slam trophy in his keeping for the first time since 2003 – and gives Djokovic a chance to add a second major to his 2008 Australian Open win.
Djokovic will play the winner of Friday night’s semi-final between Ferrer and Briton Andy Murray in Sunday’s final.