Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Official match report - Quarter Final

Roger Federer has been casting magical spells around Melbourne Park, but one of his primary rivals, Australian Open 2008 champion, Novak Djokovic, has some sorcery up his sleeve, too.

On Tuesday, the swaggering Serbian outran Tomas Berdych 6-1, 7-6(5), 6-1 to set up another semifinal with Federer. The third-seeded Djokovic has only lost one set during the tournament and despite playing into the first week of December in leading his nation to its first Davis Cup title, he looks positively refreshed.

He's moving like the wind, powering his groundstrokes to the corners, returning huge serves like they are powder-puffs and spotting his own serve quite accurately. He overwhelmed Berdych in the first set, fought back from a 1-4 deficit in the second set and won the tiebreak when Berdych went wide on a forehand. Despite the big Czech's efforts to dig himself into the third set, the Serbian kept yanking him around and closed him out with a huge serve down the T.

"Pretty much I can be disappointed with the second set," said Berdych. "I took over a little bit and was playing well, aggressive enough, and somehow he starts to make at least a couple of mistakes that give me a chance to have a break. Then just lost the set very close in the tiebreak where was also a bit lucky. The other two sets he was quite dominating and he was playing really well today."

After winning the Davis Cup, Djokovic only took two weeks off before starting to train again and then headed to Perth for the Hopman Cup, where he immediately hit top level. He says that he organized his off season much better than in 2009 and therefore is feeling mentally and physically spry. Plus, he's still on a high from his solid play last fall.

"The Davis Cup title gave me a lot confidence," he said. "Just motivated to me come back and win some more matches. I felt like I'm starting to play my best tennis in last five, six months. I have more experience on the court. Physically I'm fit. I'm hitting the ball better and I have more variety in the game. Serve has been much better, which is very encouraging fact because it's been an issue for me in the last 12 months. I was hungry for more success and probably that's an explanation."

However, Djokovic is sure to be severely tested against Federer, against whom he owns a 6-13 record. The Serbian scored the biggest victory of his career to date when he upset the Swiss in the semis of Australian Open 2008, and then went on to win the title over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Djokovic also stunned Federer in the 2010 US Open semifinals when he fought off two matches points and took him down in five sets.

But Federer has won their past three meetings and has beaten Djokovic in four other Grand Slam encounters, including in straight sets at Australian Open 2007. Djokovic realizes that if he's going to beat the Swiss, he's going to have to swarm him and not allow the Swiss to get on top of him early.

"He's very aggressive player, maybe the most aggressive there is on the tour," Djokovic said. "You have to be patient, put some varieties and get him out of comfort zone. I've played so many times against him. He knows my game really well, as I know his. You have to try to get him on the run as much as you can and try to let him know you're there to win."

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