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Novak Đokovic to face Roger Federer semi-final after beating Miloš Raonić at Australian Open


Defending champion Novak Đoković set up an Australian Open semi-final against Roger Federer after producing another clinical performance to beat Canadian 32nd seed Miloš Raonić.

Đoković dismantled Raonić’s potent serve to win 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-1) despite an eye problem late in the third set.

The Serb second seed, who is aiming for a record-extending eighth title, has lost just one set in Melbourne so far.

Đoković, 32, will meet Swiss third seed Federer in Thursday’s semi-final.

It is the pair’s first meeting at the Australian Open since Đoković beat 38-year-old Federer in their 2016 semi-final.

“He is one of the all-time greats and the match-ups against Roger and Rafa have made me the player I am today,” said Đoković, who has lost just three times at Melbourne Park in the past decade.

“I hope I can get just one match point against him. Let the better player win.”

Đoković, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, has been in fine fettle as he looks to move closer to Federer’s all-time record of 20 major triumphs with another victory in Melbourne.

On a court where he has produced some of the finest performances of his career, the Serb continues to show why he is widely considered as the man to beat.

Raonić, 29, came into the last-eight contest having not dropped serve and not dropped a set in his previous four matches.

But Đoković negated that weapon from the very start with his energetic court coverage and relentless returning.

Đoković created 12 breakpoints across the opening two sets and needed to convert just one in each to move within another of the last four.

The third set required a little more patience from Đoković, who did not create another opportunity on Raonic’s serve until the Canadian fought off four break points at 5-5.

But Raonić’s resistance could not extend to the tie-break.

Đoković raced 6-1 in front and converted his first match point when Raonić thumped a forehand into the net.

“I knew the return would be key. How many balls I could get in play, get into the rallies and get him moving around the court,” Đoković said.

Đoković doesn’t lose sight of victory – despite contact lens trouble

Đoković wears contact lenses while he is playing and overcame some irritation with them in the third set before clinching victory.

The seven-time champion nipped off court at 4-4, with Raonić set to serve in the next game, in a bid to solve the problem.

Raonić questioned whether his opponent should have waited until the changeover, saying “I don’t have contact lenses but I could just say I do to go off court.”

Đoković apologised to Raonićnwhen he returned and again after the match.

“I want to apologise to Miloš once again because it is not something you see often,” Đoković said.

“It was not intentional or tactical but it was something I had to do because I couldn’t see too much.”

The issue still appeared to be causing problems for the Serb, who was often widening his eyes and blinking when he came back on the court.

He called the trainer out for some more eye drops before the problem eased and he was able to tee up a 50th meeting with his great rival Federer.

Afterwards, Đoković paid tribute to American basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Đoković, who wore the initials ‘KB’ on his tracksuit during the warm-up, described Bryant as his “mentor” and “friend” in an emotional post-match interview on Rod Laver Arena.

Fighting back the tears, he said: “It really caught us by surprise.

“Kobe was one of the greatest athletes of all time and inspired me and many other people around the world.

“I had that fortune to have a personal relationship with him over the last 10 years and when I needed advice he was there for me.

“It is just heartbreaking to see what has happened with him and his daughter.”




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