Novak Djokovic jokingly hopes for 'at least one match point' against Roger Federer in Aussie Open semifinal



For the 50th time in their careers, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will face off in the Australian Open semifinal, and if the last time these two living legends played each other in a Grand Slam is any indication, this could be another epic match.

In the 2019 Wimbledon final, Djokovic and Federer battled through a nearly five-hour, five-set match that captivated sports fans everywhere with the 32-year-old Serbian player coming out on top, 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 13-12 (7-3). It was his 16th Grand Slam title as he tries to catch Federer with 20 and Rafael Nadal with 19.

Djokovic is playing on his best major court with seven of his Grand Slam titles being won in Melbourne, competing for back-to-back Australian Open trophies in his “favorite tournament.”

Despite that, the Djoker still hopes for at least a chance to beat his rival in the Aussie Open semifinal.

In his on-court interview after beating Milos Raonic on Tuesday, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6, Djokovic said of 38-year-old Federer:

“Obviously tremendous respect for Roger [and] everything he has achieved. He has been one of the all-time greats and definitely one of my two biggest rivals. And I’ve been saying this many times, I’ll repeat it again: The matchups against Roger and Rafa have made me a player I am today.

“So I’m grateful I have had so many great matches against those guys. I hope I get to at least one match point in a few days.”

Djokovic leads Federer (and Nadal, for what it’s worth) in head-to-head Grand Slam matchups and overall, and at the rate he’s going, it’s reasonable to think he’ll be considered the GOAT of men’s tennis when his career ends. He leads Federer 26-23 overall and 10-6 in Grand Slams and has won their last five major matches.

In the Australian Open, Federer advanced to the semis just before Djokovic did in an incredible comeback victory over American Tennys Sandgren. He saved seven match points in the fourth set, and Djokovic was among those stunned by what his rival can do.

He continued:

“It was quite amazing what he has done on the court today, and it’s not the first time that he has done that in his career. That’s why he is who he is. Let the better player win.”

The last time Djokovic and Federer played each other in general was in the Nitto ATP Finals in November, and Federer won. However, in Grand Slams, the last time Federer beat Djokovic was in the Wimbledon semifinals in 2012.

During his post-match press conference, Djokovic continued to praise Federer’s comeback win Tuesday and spoke about what makes him so great to play against. He said:

“Whenever we get a chance to play each other, we understand that it takes a big effort, and it’s required from us to come up with the best game in order to win against each other. Wimbledon last year, he had two match points, he was one shot away from winning that match, so it’s not like I’ve been dominating the matchups.

“I’ve had success against him … in Grand Slams in particular, but Roger is Roger. You know that he’s always going to play at such a high level, regardless of the surface. And he loves to play these kind of matches, big rivalries, semis and finals of Grand Slams. And he’s probably going to confirm that that’s probably the biggest reason why he’s still competing — to be able to compete at the Grand Slams against [the] best players in the world.

“What he did today was really amazing, to come back and save seven match points. At his age, he’s still playing such great tennis and proving that he deserves to be up there and he’s a great fighter.”

Djovokic and Federer’s semifinal match is Thursday morning in Melbourne, which will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.

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