Roger Federer: 'Novak Djokovic played amazing tennis at the Australian Open'

Tennis - Novak defeated Roger in the semis before prevailing in the title clash versus Dominic Thiem to claim the eighth crown in Melbourne

by Jovica Ilic
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Roger Federer: 'Novak Djokovic played amazing tennis at the Australian Open'

The first Major of the season is behind us, with Novak Djokovic conquering his eighth Australian Open crown to make the GOAT race more exciting than ever, trailing only three Majors behind Roger Federer. The Serb defeated the Swiss in the semi-final, with Federer who couldn't give his 100% after groin and knee injuries, barely passing John Millman and Tennys Sandgren in the previous rounds and having nothing left for Djokovic clash despite a solid effort.

Speaking about the tournament, Roger said that Novak Djokovic played on a very high level to deserve the title, beating Dominic Thiem in a thrilling final to write history in Melbourne once again. The Serb produced marvelous tennis once again to leave six rivals behind and set the title clash against the Austrian who gave his 120% in trying to beat the great opponent and lift the first Major.

Dominating in sets two and three, Dominic lost the ground to allow Novak to make a comeback and prevail 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, staying undefeated in the Australian Open title matches. Djokovic needed 52 minutes to grab the opener 6-4, serving at 80% and having better numbers behind the initial shot to lose serve once and deliver two breaks for a positive result ahead of set number two.

Finding his strokes right from the start, Novak brought the opening game home with some powerful serves, getting his name on the scoreboard and making a perfect start of his eighth Australian Open final. Mounting the pressure on the opponent, Djokovic stayed in touch in the second game and grabbed a break following a forehand error from Thiem, gathering an early advantage and closing the third game with more winners on his tally that sent him further in front.

The Serb fired a forehand winner to reach deuce in the fourth game, denied by a volley winner from the Austrian who forced an error from Novak to grab his first game and reduce the deficit to a 3-1. Supper aggressive Djokovic painted a backhand down the line winner to close the fifth game and forge a 4-1 advantage, barely losing a point so far behind the initial shot and keeping all the pressure on the other side of the net.

With no room for further errors, Thiem had to face another deuce on serve in the sixth game, hitting a forehand winner to get out of trouble but leaving Novak in following a volley error at the net. In the end, the Austrian held after a backhand error from Djokovic, staying within one break deficit and hoping for something more on the return in the next game.

A forehand crosscourt winner offered him two break chances, seizing the first when Djokovic netted an easy backhand to pull the break back and get to the positive side of the scoreboard after 33 minutes. The Austrian had to play against a break chance in the eighth game, erasing it with a volley winner and closing the game with two well-engineered attacks to level the score at 4-4.

Finding his strokes again, Novak held with a service winner in the ninth game and created a set point on the return thanks to a massive forehand mistake from Thiem. The younger player repelled it with some brave hitting, forcing an error from Novak for an advantage but losing the set in the end after a double fault.

Dominic Thiem has leveled the score against Novak Djokovic after taking the second 6-4. The Austrian made a great response in set number two, having more winners than Novak and taming his shots nicely to put Djokovic under pressure and break him twice, enough for a set and more drama in the first Major final of the season.

Thiem sprayed a backhand error at the beginning of the second set, allowing Djokovic to hold at love and continue where he left at the end of the first. Having to repeat that level to stay in touch, Dominic landed an ace in the second game for a convincing hold, hoping to create some damage on the return in the next couple of games.

A perfect backhand winner sent him 30-15 in the third game, denied by a forehand winner from Novak who hit a double fault to offer a break chance to his rival. Dominic sent a backhand wide to miss a big opportunity, creating another one that Djokovic saved with a brave forehand winner before a loose forehand that gave the Austrian a third chance for a break.

The Serb double faulted again to give serve away, finding himself 2-1 down and losing ground a little bit in those moments. Having a clear upper hand on the court now, Thiem held at 15 to cement the break and move 3-1 in front, winning eight out of nine points on serve so far in set number two.

Facing a break point in the sixth game after another double fault, Dominic blasted a forehand winner to get out of jail, delivering a significant hold and staying a break up. The defending champion held at 15 with a forehand winner in game seven remaining within one break deficit and seeking that necessary break by the end of the set.

Djokovic earned a break chance in the next game following a weak backhand from Thiem, converting it thanks to another wide shot from Dominic's left wing to level the score at 4-4 and gain a massive boost. Messy drop shot from Djokovic offered two break chances to Thiem in game nine, with the Austrian converting the first one after a terrible forehand from Novak to move in front again and serve for the set at 5-4.

With no sign of nerves, Dominic fired a forehand down the line winner for three set points, converting the second to level the overall score at 1-1 after an hour and 41 minutes. Losing his focus and momentum in the closing stages of the second set, Novak Djokovic suffered two breaks early in the third to send Dominic Thiem in front, with the Austrian doing everything right to control the pace and forge two sets to one advantage, moving a set away from the first Major crown.

With a boost on his side, Thiem earned a break chance at the beginning of the set after forcing an error from Djokovic, wasting it with a terrible forehand at the net from an ideal position. On the second break point, Novak sprayed a backhand error to send the rival in front early on, struggling to find the pace from the first set and keep the balls on his racquet.

Serving to confirm the break, Dominic landed another deep and powerful groundstroke to draw a mistake from the rival and repel a break chance, painting the line with his forehand in the next point and brought the game home with a service winner to move 2-0 up.

A backhand down the line bullet provided more break chances for an inspired Austrian in the third game, seizing the second one after a quick forehand mistake from Djokovic to find himself 3-0 in front, stealing the defending champion's serve thrice in a row.

Fantastic lob winner at 30-30 in game four put the troubles away from Thiem, blasting another ace to secure the game and increase the advantage. Djokovic held with a backhand winner to get his name on the scoreboard so late in the set, hoping to reduce the number of errors and get some chances on the return as soon as possible before the set fades away from him.

Never putting a foot wrong, Dominic landed an ace and a backhand down the line winner to clinch the sixth game, rattling off seven of the last eight games and building a 5-1 advantage, forcing Novak to serve for staying in the set.

The Serb held with easy to prolong the set and created a break chance in the next game, denied by Thiem who converted the fourth set point when Djokovic's forehand found the net, moving closer to his career-best title. In a manner of a true champion, Djokovic has taken the fourth set 6-3 against Thiem, breaking the Austrian in the eighth game and closing the set with a perfect hold to send the final into a decider.

Novak reduced the number of errors and took power off from the rival's shots, serving well and seizing that chance on the return to stay on the course for the eighth crown in Melbourne. Starting all over after a medical timeout following the third set, Novak delivered a fine hold in the first game of the fourth, having no room for errors in the rest of the encounter if he wanted to defend the title.

Dominic responded with another comfortable hold and created a break chance next time on the return, denied by a volley winner from Djokovic who held following a lucky net cord to stay 2-1 in front. Leaving that previous game behind him instantly, Thiem landed an ace for a hold at 15, leveling the score at 2-2 to put the pressure back on Novak.

Feeling much better on the court now, the seven-time champion forged a much-needed hold at love with a volley winner to grab the fifth game, seeking his first break of serve since the eighth game of the second set. He reached deuce in the next game when Thiem netted a backhand, with the Austrian taking an incredible point with a smash winner and firing another powerful forehand for a big hold and more boost of confidence.

Serving with more efficiency than in the previous two sets, Djokovic found the target again to gain a 4-3 advantage, finding free points and not allowing Thiem to dictate the pace on the return. Dominic couldn't follow that rhythm in the next game, hitting a double fault to offer Novak two break chances and spraying a forehand error on the second to send the Serb 5-3 up.

The defending champion held at love in that ninth game to take the set and force a decider with an ace, keeping chances for the eighth Melbourne crown alive. Thiem kicked off the deciding set with a comfortable hold, matched by Djokovic who leveled the score at 1-1 with a hold at love after a forehand winner, looking like a player on the mission now.

Novak finally grabbed his first break after the second set in game three when Dominic sprayed a forehand error, with the Austrian squandering two break chances in the next game that could have brought him back to the positive side of the scoreboard.

In the end, Novak survived those two break points when Dominic hit a backhand long, rattling off the last three games and moving closer to the finish line. With his back pushed against the wall, Thiem had to face a deuce in the fifth game as well, winning the next couple of points for a vital hold and staying within one break deficit.

Facing a break point in the seventh game, Dominic repelled it with a service winner, closing the game with another powerful serve to stay in touch. Novak produced a service winner in game eight to keep his advantage alive, forcing the rival to serve for lingering in the match at 3-5.

Showing no signs of nerves, Thiem held at 15 when Djokovic sprayed a backhand error, reducing the deficit to 5-4 and returning to stay in the competition in the next game. He opened the game with a backhand down the line winner, denied by Djokovic who placed an ace for a 15-15, holding after a forehand error from Thiem to celebrate the title.

Roger Federer Novak Djokovic Dominic Thiem
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