Eighth Australian Open final for Djokovic after straight-sets win over Federer

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Novak Djokovic recovered from a poor start to beat Roger Federer and reach a record eighth Australian Open final.

Djokovic has never failed to win the title once he has made the semi-finals at Melbourne Park and his 7-6 (1) 6-4 6-3 success over his old rival means he will have the chance to claim an eighth title on Sunday when he faces either Dominic Thiem or Alexander Zverev.

That will extend the men’s record he set last year with a straight-sets thumping of Rafael Nadal.

Despite not facing an opponent ranked in the top 40, he had twice escaped from the brink of defeat, coming back from 8-4 down in a deciding tie-break against John Millman in round three and then improbably saving seven match points against Tennys Sandgren in the quarter-finals.

That came despite Federer struggling with a groin problem that prompted speculation about whether he would even take to the court for this match.

Federer took heart from beating the Serbian at the ATP Finals in November but he had not got the better of him in a best-of-five-sets match since Wimbledon 2012, and not on hard courts for more than a decade.

But, in energy-sapping heat, unexpectedly it was Federer who made a flying start, breaking Djokovic in his first two service games and having three chances to break again for a 5-1 lead.

At one stage, Federer had hit 20 winners and Djokovic only four, but the defending champion dug in just in time, keeping it to one break and then breaking to love when his opponent served for the set at 5-3.

Roger Federer did not take his chance in the first set
Roger Federer did not take his chance in the first set (Andy Brownbill/AP)

At the end of the set, Federer headed off court with the trainer for another medical timeout, this one seemingly for his lower back.

Despite his improvement, Djokovic, too, consulted the doctor and took a pill. The 32-year-old had cryptically revealed after his quarter-final victory over Milos Raonic that there was more bothering him than simply the contact lens problems he experienced, with speculation about a stomach issue.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic played in front of a packed house
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic played in front of a packed house (Andy Wong/AP)

He held firm until the 10th game, when Djokovic forced a set point and took it with a forehand flick, celebrating exuberantly.

Federer had said after beating Sandgren that he believed in miracles, but his Melbourne luck had run out and Djokovic moved through to his 26th grand slam final where he will try to win a 17th title.

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