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Federer forced out in Melbourne

Roger Federer waves goodbye earlier than he would have liked Reuters

Defending Australian Open champion Roger Federer has been knocked out in the semifinals by 2008 champion Novak Djokovic 7-6, 7-5, 6-4.

The talk before the tournament was of a blockbuster final between Rafael Nadal, going for his fourth straight grand slam win, and Federer, who was aiming for his fifth Australian title and perhaps the only player who could stop him.

Instead, after Nadal was eliminated by fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in an injury-induced straight-set loss on Wednesday, and now Federer heading home, it will be Djokovic in the final against either Andy Murray or Ferrer, who play their semifinal on Friday.

“I’m looking forward to watching that match tomorrow from my bed with some popcorn,” Djokovic said.

“David played a fantastic match against Rafa even though Rafa was struggling obviously with injuries. They are in top shape. Andy has been in top shape on this court. It’s a grand slam final, anything can happen. I believe in myself.”

It will be the first time since 2003 that Federer will not hold any of the four major titles and the first time that neither Nadal nor Federer will not feature in a grand slam final since the Australian Open in 2008, when Djokovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

“I was ready for another two sets easily,” Federer said. “Pity I couldn’t push him there. Wish I could have won here for the fifth time, but it wasn’t possible tonight.”

The scenario could open the door for Murray to become the first British grand slam singles champion since Fred Perry in 1936 when the final is played on Sunday night in the Rod Laver Arena.

Power strokes

“It’s really one of the best matches I’ve played in a while,” Djokovic said.

It is the second straight grand slam that Djokovic has knocked Federer out in the semis. At last year’s US Open, the Serbian player saved match points before beating Federer in five sets to advance to the final against Nadal.

The last time Federer lost in straight sets to Djokovic in a major was in Melbourne in 2008.

Federer won 11 of 14 points to come back from a service breakdown to take the lead in the second set after the two traded tit-for-tat booming forehands and chip backhands during the opening set. But Djokovic broke back later in the second set and took his power strokes into the third set to win in three hours.

It was the 20th encounter of the pair, with Federer still holding a 13-7 edge.

“It’s not the end in any way,” Federer said. “Sure, it’s disappointing and it hurts in the moment itself, but that’s sometimes how it goes. Doesn’t mean the guy that doesn’t win the tournament can’t play tennis. That’s sometimes how things are portrayed. I had a great season last year, and I think I’ll have another one this year.”

Grand slam finals without Roger Federer since Federer played, and won, his first major final at Wimbledon in 2003:


2003 US Open _ Andy Roddick def. Juan Carlos Ferrero, 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3.

2004 French Open _ Gaston Gaudio def. Guillermo Coria, 0-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 8-6.

2005 Australian Open _ Marat Safin def. Lleyton Hewitt, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

2005 French Open _ Rafael Nadal def. Mariano Puerta, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5.

2008 Australian Open _ Novak Djokovic def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (2).

2010 French Open _ Rafael Nadal def. Robin Soderling, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

2010 Wimbledon _ Rafael Nadal def. Tomas Berdych, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

2010 US Open _ Rafael Nadal def. Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

2011 Australian Open _ Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray or David Ferrer.

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