Tennis

Djokovic's fight is within himself

After stunning win over Federer, Serbian 
world No. 1 talks of the battle within

Novak Djokovic says his biggest battle is internal as he fights to extend his domination of men's tennis - even if his supremacy is not always appreciated by the fans.

The Serbian world No. 1 hit a level rarely seen in tennis, as he yet again dismissed the great Roger Federer to reach his fifth straight Grand Slam final at the Australian Open.

Djokovic destroyed Federer in two opening sets which he described as "flawless", on the way to a consummate 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.

The 10-time Major winner said the first two sets were the best he has ever played against the Swiss legend, who looked helpless against the onslaught before staging a short-lived rally in the third set.

Djokovic, 28, coming off an astonishing 2015 which fell only one win short of a calendar-year Grand Slam, continues to put a space between himself and the rest, including the record 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer, 34.

IN FRONT

For the first time in his long-running rivalry with Federer, which includes 45 matches and dates back a decade to 2006, he has edged to the front with 23 wins to 22.

Djokovic, who will play Andy Murray for a record-equalling sixth Australian Open crown, said these days it was more a case of struggling with himself than his opponents on court.

"At the end of the day, you are battling yourself the most. There are so many players out there who are hitting the ball well," said Djokovic.

"Whether or not you're able to cope with the pressure in these particular moments, fighting against some of the best players in the world for the Major trophy, of course there's a lot at stake.

"Emotions are going up and down. It's important to keep it together. You go throughout the match, and even before the match, through different thought processes.

"Even though sometimes it seems unnatural, you need to keep pushing yourself to be on the positive side."

As supreme as he is, Djokovic is still not as appreciated by Australian crowds as much as Federer.

The Serb denied that it hurt him, insisting Federer's popularity was due to his rich resume.

"When I play Roger, it's something that is expected, considering his career and his greatness on and off the court and what he has done for the sport.

"He's loved. He's appreciated. He's respected around the world. For me, it's normal in a way." 
- AFP.

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