First Rafael Nadal, now Roger Federer. Federer, the 16-time Grand Slam winner, was knocked out of the Australian Open 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday by 2008 champion Novak Djokovic.

The talk before the tournament was a blockbuster final between Nadal, going for his fourth straight Grand Slam win, and Federer, who was aiming for his fifth Australian title and perhaps the only player who could stop him.

Instead, after Nadal was eliminated by fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in an injury-induced straight set loss on Wednesday and now Federer heading home, it will be Djokovic in the final against either Andy Murray or Ferrer - they play their semifinal on Friday. It will be the first time since 2003 that Federer will not hold any of the four major titles.

“It’s really one of the best matches I’ve played in a while,” Djokovic said.

“I’m looking forward to watching that match tomorrow from my bed with some popcorn,” he said. “David played a fantastic match against Rafa even though Rafa was struggling obviously with injuries.

“They are in top shape. Andy has been in top shape on this court. It’s a Grand Slam final, anything can happen. I believe in myself, it’s really one of the best matches I’ve played in a while.”

“I was ready for another two sets easily,” Federer said. “Pity I couldn’t push him there. Wish I could have won here for the fifth time, but it wasn’t possible tonight.”

The finals scenario could open the door for Murray to become the first British Grand Slam singles champion since Fred Perry in 1936 when the final is played on Sunday night at Rod Laver Arena.

It is the second straight Grand Slam that Djokovic has knocked Federer out in the semis. At last year’s U.S. Open, the Serbian player saved match points before beating Federer in five sets to advance to the final against Nadal. The last time Federer was beaten in straight sets in a Grand Slam tournament was here in 2008 - against Djokovic.

Federer won 11 of 14 points to come back from a service break down to take the lead in the second set after the two traded tit-for-tat booming forehands and chip backhands during the opening set. But Djokovic broke back later in the second set and took his power strokes into the third set to win in an even three hours.

Keywords: Australian Open

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