Serbian to face Federer in semi-finals.
With Rod Laver watching from the stands, the second seed won 10 of 11 net points and saved both break points he faced to reach his eighth semi-final at Melbourne Park after two hours and 49 minutes. Djokovic owns a combined 14-0 record in semi-final and final matches at the year’s opening Grand Slam.
“It’s an honour to have Rod Laver here tonight,” said Djokovic. “It certainly adds pressure, watching every move. I’ve been fortunate to play at a high level for many years and this is no doubt my favourite court.”
Djokovic, who improves to 73-8 in Melbourne, is chasing a record-extending eighth Australian Open crown. If the World No. 2 lifts the trophy on Sunday, he would become only the third man to win a Grand Slam event on eight or more occasions alongside 12-time Roland Garros titlist Rafael Nadal and eight-time Wimbledon winner Federer.
An eighth Australian Open title would represent a 17th Grand Slam victory for Djokovic. The five-time year-end No. 1 is currently third on the all-time Grand Slam titles leader board, three trophies behind Nadal (19) and four behind record-holder Federer (20).
With a place in the final on the line, Djokovic will contest his 50th ATP Head2Head meeting against Federer. The Swiss saved seven match points to outlast Tennys Sandgren in a thrilling five-set quarter-final. Djokovic leads Federer 26-23, which includes a 3-1 record in Melbourne. Each of the Serbian’s three victories against his rival at this event have come in semi-final encounters.
“I have tremendous respect for Roger and everything he has achieved in the sport,” said Djokovic. “The match ups against Roger and Rafa are the reason I am the player that I am today. I am grateful I’ve had so many matches against those guys. It’s amazing what Roger did on the court today and he’s done it a number of times in his career. Let the better player win!”
With impressive returning, Djokovic piled the pressure on Raonic’s serve in the opener. The seven-time champion earned nine break points in the first set, but Raonic found his best level in crucial moments to keep pace.
The Canadian varied his serve direction on break points, serving to both corners in equal measure to keep his opponent guessing. But Djokovic eventually found his way into a rally on his fourth set point at 5-4, driving backhands cross court before moving his attack to the Raonic forehand. Djokovic roared in celebration as Raonic misfired into the tramline after 55 minutes.
With Raonic serving at 1-2 in the second set, Djokovic found great depth on his return to move clear. After neutralising rallies, the 32-year-old moved up the court to claim his second break of serve and a 3-1 advantage. Djokovic clinched a two-set lead with a comfortable service hold at 5-3, focusing his attack on the Raonic forehand to extract errors.
After struggling with his sight in the third set, Djokovic failed to convert four break points in a marathon 11th game. In the tie-break, the Serbian was gifted an immediate mini-break as Raonic netted a forehand approach. Djokovic soon doubled his advantage, charging to the net behind a deep forehand return and converted his first match point with a driven cross court backhand return.
“I felt great on the court and I was very focused,” said Djokovic. “The first couple of sets went exactly how I wanted them to go, with one break in each set. I felt comfortable in serving. I felt my return was key, how many balls I could get back into place, and the second key was hitting my spots. I was fortunate to get out of trouble in the third set and I played the perfect tie-break.”
Raonic was aiming to reach his second Australian Open semi-final (2016). The Canadian did not drop a set en route to the last eight, beating Lorenzo Giustino, Cristian Garin, 2019 semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas and 2018 runner-up Marin Cilic.
Djokovic has now defeated 21 opponents on 10 or more occasions at tour-level. Raonic is the fourth player on that list that Djokovic owns an unbeaten record against. Djokovic leads Gael Monfils 16-0, Jeremy Chardy 13-0 and Andreas Seppi 12-0.