Djokovic and Federer's 50th in Australian Open semis

His most recent Grand Slam title was the 2018 Australian Open, but he made it to the French Open semifinals and Wimbledon final previous year, before losing, respectively, to eventual champions Nadal and Djokovic. But he finished and still has never retired during a match in his career, an "amazing" stat, as Djokovic put it. Once he made it to the court, he was confident he could finish.

"Back in the day I feel like we could speak to linespeople", Federer said. You know, got to go for it.

He held firm until the 10th game, when Djokovic forced a set point and took it with a forehand flick, celebrating exuberantly.

Defending champion Djokovic, 32, won 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-3 in Melbourne. But the Serb quickly shut the door, and that pretty much was that.

He said he wasn't in pain ahead of the match, though that changed in the second and third sets. Djokovic himself said he wasn't sure. He was obviously hurt.

Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 26-23, with five in a row in matches at the majors, including their most recent meeting - in last year's Wimbledon final, where he saved two match points to beat Federer in a fifth-set tiebreaker.

As someone who has won 20 Grand Slam titles and 102 titles in all over his career, success is a relative term. There's so many things that can cover a problem, if there were one. But look at the end of the day, I'm very happy. I think I returned really well in the beginning.

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"We can not care about those kinds of things", said the Swede, who was selected as Time's Person of the Year for 2019. He graduated with a bachelors degree which he confirmed for the first time Thursday was in economics.

Apart from being arguably the best tennis player of all time, Federer is also proficient in several languages - his native tongue is Swiss German, but also speaks fluent German, French and English, as well as some Swedish, Italian, Spanish and Afrikaans. I think it was the maximum I could have got at this tournament especially after the Millman and Sandgren matches.

But with everything against him - Federer believed he had a " 3 per cent chance" of winning - the six-time Australian Open champion said he played with nothing to lose.

It is a situation Federer is comfortable with.

He did gain some revenge over the Serbian in the round-robin phase of the ATP Finals past year, but Thursday night was their first rematch where it really mattered - on a Grand Slam stage.

"I do believe that", he said.

"But especially my age, you don't know".

"Next time I got to check the lines people", he added jokingly. No plans to retire.

  • Lawrence Cooper