January 28, 2011 in Sports

Djokovic blocks Federer from final

Rare Slam final without Swiss great or Nadal
John Pye Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory over Roger Federer in Aussie semis.
(Full-size photo)

Australian Open

Singles championships

Women:

Kim Clijsters vs. Li Na

TV: Midnight Saturday

Men: Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray or David Ferrer TV: Midnight Sunday

MELBOURNE, Australia – Roger Federer saved a parting shot for anyone who thinks his time is up and a changing of the guard in tennis awaits.

“Yeah, I mean, they say that very quickly. … Let’s talk in six months again,” he said.

The heavily hyped duel between Federer and Rafael Nadal will not happen in Melbourne, opening a rare window for someone else.

Federer, the defending champion, lost to Novak Djokovic 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-4 in the Australian Open semifinals Thursday night. It marks the first time since 2008 neither of tennis’ most dominant men will play in a Grand Slam final. Less than 24 hours earlier, an ailing Nadal’s pursuit of a Rafa Slam evaporated in a quarterfinal loss to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

Djokovic will play Ferrer or Andy Murray in the final. On the women’s side, the title match is set with Kim Clijsters facing Li Na. Clijsters beat Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-3, and Li eliminated top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Federer and Nadal have combined to win 21 of the last 23 majors. This is also the first time since 2003 that Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam winner, will not hold at least one of the four major trophies.

The Swiss great was outplayed by Djokovic, who reveled in the cooler night weather. It was the second straight time Federer has lost to the Serb – he had match points before losing in the U.S. Open semifinals.

“It’s disappointing and it hurts in the moment itself,” Federer said. “I wish I could have won here again for the fifth time. But wasn’t possible tonight. It’s not the end in any way. It’s a start for many other tournaments after this.”

Federer said he didn’t play the key points well.

He fell behind quickly in the first-set tiebreaker on backhand errors, giving Djokovic four set points.

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