MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic was wondering, right along with everyone else, what sort of shape Roger Federer would be in for their Australian Open semifinal.
So Djokovic was watching closely.
At age 38, despite dealing with a painful groin muscle and coming off a draining five-setter, Federer came out just fine, it seemed, and soon was up 4-1 and love-40, holding a trio of break chances as Djokovic served.
Didn’t last. Federer couldn’t sustain that level. Djokovic didn’t let him.
Casting aside a bit of a poor start during the rivals’ 50th meeting, Djokovic stretched his Grand Slam winning streak against Federer to six in a row with a 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-3 victory Thursday night that earned the defending champion a record eighth trip to the final at Melbourne Park.
“Well, it could have definitely gone a different way, if he used those break points. He started off really well. I was pretty nervous at the beginning,” said Djokovic, who now leads their head-to-head series 27-23, including 11-6 at majors.
“I just want to say respect to Roger for coming out tonight. He was obviously hurt,” Djokovic said. “Wasn’t at his best.”
The No. 2-seeded Djokovic will try to collect a record-extending eighth Australian Open title in Sunday’s final against No. 5 Dominic Thiem or No. 7 Alexander Zverev.
Djokovic also can claim a 17th major trophy overall to move closer to Federer’s record of 20.
In the women’s final Saturday, it’ll be two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain against 21-year-old Sofia Kenin of the United States. It’s Kenin’s debut in a Grand Slam title match.