Thirteen years ago in Melbourne, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic played their first Grand Slam match, with Roger scoring a 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 win en route to his third Australian Open title. The same rivals competed for the title at the US Open in September (Roger won that one in straight sets as well) and set another entertaining clash in Melbourne in 2008.
The 20-year-old Serb had already established himself as world no. 3 and was the player to beat at Melbourne Park that year, defeating five rivals in straight sets to book the seventh meeting with Roger Federer. On January 25, Djokovic managed to dethrone the Swiss 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 in two hours and 26 minutes, claiming his second win over Roger and ending his unprecedented streak of ten Grand Slam finals in a row that started at Wimbledon 2005!
After 20 years, the Rebound Ace surface at Melbourne Park was replaced with the Plexicushion and Djokovic was the one who drew the most from that, outplaying Federer in the shortest points and creating more damage with the first serve, hitting 37 service winners in comparison to 34 from Roger.
The Serb repelled seven out of nine break points and grabbed four breaks from 11 chances, prevailing in the crucial moments to advance into his first Australian Open final and become the first player with straight sets Grand Slam win over Federer since Gustavo Kuerten in Paris 2004!
Novak earned two break points in the fourth game of the match but Roger stayed calm, taking four points in a row to avoid an early setback and stealing the rival's serve at 3-3 to move in front. The youngster netted a backhand in the eighth game to push Roger 5-3 up, serving to stay in the opener in game nine, with no room for further errors.
From 30-0 down, the youngster won four points in a row, gathering momentum ahead of the crucial game ten when he broke back thanks to a colossal forehand error from Federer that sent the impulse to the Serb's side of the net.
Serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Roger got broken again after a backhand error, losing the last four games and handing the opener to his opponent in 45 minutes. Djokovic forged the lead in the fourth game of the second set following a mind-blowing defense and a backhand down the line winner that fed him with even more confidence in his abilities and chances in this encounter.
A service winner sent the Serb 4-1 up and there were two more break points up for grabs in the next game as he completely outplayed Federer in those moments. A mighty forehand crosscourt winner sealed the break for Novak although he failed to close the set on own serve, suffering a break after a stunning backhand return winner from Roger who extended the set for a game or two.
The Swiss was two points away from pulling the second break back in game nine but that never happened, as Novak closed the set with two winners that pushed him 7-5, 6-3 in front in less than an hour and a half, taking another big step towards a massive triumph.
Federer couldn't bring his best tennis in the crucial moments again in the third set, squandering three break points in the second game and having to play against four break chances on own serve in the very next game.
He got out of jail to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard and the match entered the finest stage, with good holds on both sides until Novak served to stay in the set at 5-6. He offered Roger a set point but erased it with an excellent wide serve before the Swiss created another one with a stunning forehand crosscourt winner.
Novak responded with a forehand winner of his own and set the tie break with a volley winner. Trailing 5-4, Djokovic hit two service winners and sealed the deal in the next point after a forehand error from Federer, celebrating one of the biggest wins of his career at that moment and becoming the favorite to claim the first Grand Slam trophy against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, which he did a couple of days later.