Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Djokovic advances to Australian Open men’s final

MELBOURNE, Australia— Two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic advanced to his third consecutive Australian Open final with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over No. 4-seeded David Ferrer on Thursday night.

The top-ranked Djokovic was in dominating form, hitting 30 crisp winners in the 1-hour, 29-minute match. He is aiming to be the first man in the Open era to win three consecutive Australian titles.

On Sunday, he’ll meet the winner of Friday’s semifinal between No. 2-ranked Roger Federer, a four-time Australian champion, and U.S. Open winner Andy Murray, who is ranked No. 3.

Djokovic, who is now unbeaten in five Grand Slam head-to-heads with Ferrer, allowed his opponent only four points in the first four games of the last set to strangle any chance of a comeback.

Djokovic looked like he was conducting a tennis clinic in overpowering Ferrer .

“I played perfectly,” he said in a post-match TV interview. “I played incredible tennis.”

Djokovic will attempt to win his third consecutive Australian Open when he plays the winner of Friday’s semifinal between Roger Federer and Andy Murray in Sunday’s championship match.

Djokovic was stretched to five sets in a 5-hour, 2-minute fourth-round match against Stanislaw Wawrinka, then lost a set against Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

But the hard-serving Djokovic was at his sublime best on Thursday night, converting all of seven break-point chances while not facing any on his serve. Now unbeaten in five Grand Slam head-to-heads with Ferrer, he allowed his opponent only four points in the first four games of the last set.

“I felt very comfortable and very confident from the start,” he said. “I wanted to be aggressive on the court. This is definitely one of the best performances I ever had in my career.”

Ferrer double-faulted to set up match point, then lost the match on the following point when he floated a backhand long.

The Spaniard was pleased to have made it as far as he did in the tournament.

“I prefer to play worse in a semifinal than in the first round,” Ferrer said. “Of course, I am not happy with my game tonight, but this is tennis.”

With such a light workout during his match, Djokovic went back out to center court at Rod Laver Arena an hour later during a legends doubles match involving his friend, retired Frenchman Henri Leconte.

To much laughter from the crowd, Djokovic, dressed in a mock medical costume, pretended to give Leconte treatment at the side of the court.

Later, he was all business while talking about the final against either Federer or Murray.

“It can only do positive things to my confidence at this stage of the tournament,” Djokovic said of his easy win. “I have a great feeling about myself at the moment.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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