Melbourne: Defending champion Novak Djokovic set up a semi-final showdown with 'Big Three' rival Roger Federer at the Australian Open on Tuesday with a thumping 6-4 6-3 7-6(1) victory over Canada's hapless Milos Raonic.
Federer had saved seven match points in a five-set thriller with American battler Tennys Sandgren only hours before but there was no such luck of a second successive belter for the fans at Rod Laver Arena, with Djokovic at his ruthless best.
The floodlit match between Raonic, one of the tour's most vexing servers, against one of its most brilliant returners had promised, at the least, an intriguing clash of styles.
Yet, barring a third set lull for Djokovic as he struggled with his contact lenses, it was a stroll for the second seeded Serb who dismantled the Canadian's power game to book an eighth semi-final at his Melbourne Park fortress.
The Serb, in his post-match comments, said he felt great on the court and was very focussed throughout the match.
“The first two sets went the way I wanted, one break and set. I served well which was very encouraging. With Milos, returning was crucial and then how well I would hit my spots with my serve and I did that well,” he said.
Turning his attention to his next opponent, Djokovic said he has tremendous respect for Federer for everything he has achieved. “Let the best player win!” was his message before their awaited clash.
“He is one of the greats and one of my two greatest rivals and I am grateful to have played so many amazing matches against Rafa (Rafael Nadal) and him. I hope to have at least one match point (chuckles), it's amazing what he did on court and this isn't the first time he did it.”
Federer, after pulling off the miracle victory against American world number 100 Tennys Sandgren, will be battling to recover fully from a groin problem in time for Thursday's semi-final.
Federer called the trainer to the court during the third set against Sandgren and then took a lengthy medical timeout that he later said was for a problem with his groin. His movement was visibly impaired for the rest of the match but that did not stop the 38-year-old from reaching a record-extending 15th semi-final at the Australian Open.
With inputs from Reuters