Djokovic Stuns Federer at Open

Associated Press Modified: January 25, 2008 at 6:32 am •  Published: January 25, 2008
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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Roger Federer's streak of 10 straight Grand Slam finals came to an abrupt end Friday when he lost to No. 3 Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the Australian Open semifinals.

The top-seeded Federer, who had been seeking his third consecutive title here, didn't look like the same player who has won 13 majors. The emotional Djokovic had a lot to do with that, hitting 13 aces and 50 winners, largely avoiding the nerves that have occasionally troubled him.

"I am just very amazed I coped with the pressure today," Djokovic said. "In the most important moments, I played my best tennis."

"It's just amazing, indescribable, to beat the No. 1 player of the world, one of the best players this sport has ever had, in straight sets."

He will face unseeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Sunday's final. Tsonga beat No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals Thursday.

In the women's final Saturday another Serbian, fourth-seeded Ana Ivanovic, will meet No. 5 Maria Sharapova.

Other than a twitchy third-round victory over Janko Tipsarevic that went to 10-8 in the fifth set, Federer has been in good form after a stomach ailment interrupted his pre-tournament preparations. He dominated James Blake in the quarterfinals and appeared to be peaking at the right time.

Instead, he fell to his first straight-sets loss in a Grand Slam tournament since a third-round defeat to Gustavo Kuerten at the 2004 French Open.

"I think he made the more important points today, it was a bit unfortunate for me," said Federer, who rubbed his eyes frequently at his post-match news conference. "You can't always play your best. There is no doubt I have played better before.

"I've created a monster that I need to win every tournament - still the semifinals isn't bad."

Despite a 1-5 record against Federer that included a loss in the U.S. Open final in September, Djokovic was far from intimidated on a muggy night in a packed Rod Laver Arena, even after getting broken in the first set.

Federer, who is usually at his best as the pressure builds toward the end of a set, pulled ahead at 5-3 only to be stunned as Djokovic ran off the last four games, with the Swiss star hitting backhands long on the last two points of the set.

Federer grimaced or hung his head as his groundstrokes and feathery drop shots lacked their usual punch and accuracy, or deserted him entirely.

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