For a rivalry that’s dead even at 22 wins apiece headed into the Australian Open seminfinal, the Roger Federer – Novak Djokovic duel has been a decidedly one-sided affair of late. Simply put, nobody expects Federer to win against Djokovic anymore, except perhaps Federer himself. Yet Federer sometimes does beat Djokovic. He just beat the indomitable World No. 1 in London in November in straight sets, 7-5, 6-2.
How did Federer do it? First of all, it was a three-set match. That gives Djokovic less time to pound his way through any creeping inconsistencies — as he customarily does in a five-setter. And Djokovic helped Federer in London by winning a mere 25% of his service points in the second set. The odds of Djokovic being that inefficient in two sets (as Federer would need in a five-set match) are almost slimmer than the rail-thin Djokovic himself. After the match, the players’ comments revealed how each perceives the rivalry now in its late stages. Federer said, “It’s always a thrill to come out here, even more so against a great player like Novak.” While Djokovic said, “I handed him the win.” Knowing Djokovic didn’t play his best, Federer offered: “I like to give myself credit for that.” The Federer v. Djokovic Australian Open semifinal will be live at 3:30am ET on January 28.