Roger Federer pushed himself to compete in the Australian Open on Thursday, but didn’t have enough in the tank to beat Novak Djokovic in their semifinal match.
Djokovic came back from a slow start to beat Federer in straight sets, winning 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-3 to reach the Australian Open final for the eighth time.
Djokovic Dominates After Strong Start for Federer
Federer came into the match with an injured groin muscle he picked up during his epic five-set comeback win over Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals. The injury stopped Federer from practicing on Wednesday, and some wondered if the 38-year-old would even be able to compete against Djokovic.
Federer answered those questions quickly, storming out to a 4-1 lead in the first set and holding three more break points against Djokovic. But the rally dissipated soon after that. Djokovic took control, and was never in trouble after winning the first set tiebreak.
Federer maintained his record of never having retired from a tour match, though he acknowledged that there had been talks with his team about how bad the situation would have to get for him to give Djokovic a walk.
“Today was horrible, to go through what I did,” Federer said afterwards. “Nice entrance. Nice send-off. And in between, it’s one to forget, because you know you have a 3 percent chance to win. You know, got to go for it. You never know. But once you can see it coming, that it’s not going to work anymore, it’s tough.”
Djokovic praised his rival for gutting out the match, even if it was clear that Federer had very little chance of winning on Thursday.
“I just want to say, respect to Roger for coming out tonight,” Djokovic said after the match. “He was obviously hurt.”
Australian Open Odds: Men’s Championship
- Novak Djokovic (-450)
- Dominic Thiem (+440)
- Alexander Zverev (+1400)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Djokovic awaits the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between No. 5 seed Dominic Thiem and No. 7 seed Alexander Zverev. FanDuel Sportsbook sees Thiem as the -215 favorite over Zverev (+180). Both men are massive underdogs to Djokovic, who is seeking his eighth Australian Open title and his 17th career Grand Slam win.
Djokovic is a -450 pick to win the Australian Open, ahead of both Thiem (+440) and Zverev (+1400).
Kenin vs. Muguruza in Women’s Final
Sofia Kenin upset women’s No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 to reach her first Grand Slam final. The 21-year-old American saved two set points in both the first and second sets on her way to beating the world’s top-ranked player, ending Barty’s chances of providing a local winner at the Australian Open.
“I know people haven’t really paid attention much to me in the past. I had to establish myself, and I have,” Kenin said afterwards. “Of course, now I’m getting the attention, which I like it – not going to lie.”
Garbine Muguruza defeated Simona Halep in the other women’s semifinal to reach her first Australian Open final. The No. 4 seed played well, but couldn’t find a way to beat Muguruza, who took the 7-6 (10-8), 7-5 win.
Muguruza owns two Grand Slam titles and is a former world No. 1. That pedigree makes her the favorite in the Australian Open final, with FanDuel listing her at -184 to get past Kenin (+156).