No go, Djoko. It’s Roger vs. Rafa in the French Open final once again. Novak Djokovic’s perfect season and 43-match winning streak were ended by Roger Federer in the semifinals at Roland Garros. The 16-time Grand Slam champion beat the second-seeded Serb 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) on Friday and will face Rafael Nadal in the final for the fourth time in six years.
“I’ve trained a lot during my whole life for these kinds of matches,” Federer said. “There was an enormous amount of pressure on Novak and he really played well.”
On Sunday, Nadal will try to beat Federer for the sixth time in eight Grand Slam finals - and if he does so, he will prevent Djokovic from taking his No. 1 ranking.
“Beating Novak today was maybe a good birthday gift for him because he lost his four previous matches against Novak,” Federer said of Nadal, who turned 25 on Friday. “I’m going to play against Nadal, my main rival, in another Grand Slam final. We live for these moments.”
Djokovic entered the French Open as the hottest man on tour. He won every tournament he had played in 2011, including earning his second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open after beating Federer in their second straight major semifinal.
But for Federer, three times in a row was too many. The third-seeded Swiss had an answer to just about everything Djokovic could muster, sending back shot after shot and waiting for his opponent to make the mistakes - even though Federer finished with 46 unforced errors, five more than Djokovic.
The two traded a pair of breaks in the first set, and Djokovic then led 5-4 in the tiebreaker when three unforced errors - a backhand and two forehands - gave Federer the set.
“The first set was monstrous,” Federer said, “and in the second set we were both tired because the pace was unbelievable.” In the second, Federer took Djokovic’s serve to jump ahead 4-1 and held on to win it despite wasting nine more break chances.
Djokovic got the early break in the third and ran out to a 3-0 lead, eventually taking the first set off Federer at this year’s tournament. He also led in the fourth, and served for the set at 5-4. But Federer got his fourth break to soon send it back to a tiebreaker.
Once there, Federer was the Federer of old again. He took a 6-3 lead by winning three straight points, the latter two with an ace and service winner. He then won the match with his 18th ace of the match.
“What I would like to say, and I said it to him at the net, is that his record, although it’s not the best because other players have done better - today it’s so physical and professional - what he achieved is unbelievable,” Federer said.
Keywords: French Open 2011