Djokovic dumped while Federer flies into semis (Roundup)

January 27th, 2009 - 10:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Roger FedererMelbourne, Jan 27 (DPA) The title defence of Novak Djokovic melted in 36 Celsius heat while Roger Federer came out in the evening cool to claim a runaway win at the Australian Open Tuesday.Struggling Serb Djokovic quit his quarter-final to present a 6-7(3-7), 6-4, 6-2, 2-1 victory to Andy Roddick.

Federer never broke stride as he crushed Argentine Juan Del Potro 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 after requiring five long sets in the previous round to get past Tomas Berdych. He has now reached his 19th consecutive Grand Slam semi-final.

Federer - with ten aces, six breaks of serve, 38 winners and just nine unforced errors - handed the number eight his head on a platter, with Del Potro falling 6-0 in a Grand Slam for the first time.

“I’m happy to be in semi-finals, I’m proud of 19 in a row. But that doesn’t earn a Slam win,” said Federer.

“I played great and did not expect a result like this,” added the delighted 13-time Grand Slam champion. “Juan Martin was not at his best. It was a fabulous effort, I’m delighted and I hope I can keep it up.

“It was close in the first set, but maybe you get a break and then you run away with it. Tonight the rhythm came by itself, he goes down and I go down - it can be a huge difference.”

Roddick fired 16 aces against Djokovic, but faces a mountain to climb as he stands 1-10 against the Swiss since 2004.

Djokovic’s retirement after two hours, 29 minutes was his fourth at a Grand Slam, taken due to cramping.

“It’s really unfortunate way to end up my Australian Open 2009 here in this way,” said the subdued Serb. “I really tried my best, but sometimes you can’t fight against your own body.”

The second seed also failed to finish last summer in the Wimbledon semi-finals against Rafael Nadal, and twice at Roland Garros - a 2006 quarter-final against Nadal and the second round a year earlier against Guillermo Coria.

“I did have some retirements, but I always retired with a reason,” he said. “Whenever I retired, I retired because I felt I could not go on.”

Djokovic crashed to 39 unforced errors as the strength ebbed from his game. He needed two medical treatments on the sideline during the agonising contest, with trainers at one stage applying ice around his neck.

Roddick said he felt fresh throughout.

“I felt pretty good out there, I wasn’t really feeling too much,” said the American who has dropped seven kilograms and revitalised his game after two months of working with new coach Larry Stefanki.

“To be honest, from watching the news and everything yesterday, I thought it might be a little bit worse out there. But I’m just happy to be through.”

Djokovic won the first set in a tiebreaker but was already starting to show the ill effects in the conditions. Meanwhile Roddick, who lives and trains in sometimes-steamy Texas, rose to the occasion in the fitness stakes.

“I was just playing my side of the court and I didn’t notice until the umpire said that they had someone coming out to see him.

“When you know he’s hurting, all you want to do is just deliver that knockout blow, you don’t want to keep playing the game of wondering if he’s going to do it or not or if he’s close.

“Only he really knows. I was happy that I was able to get the last break in there, the last blow. If anything, it just gives your piece of mind, a little bit of a rest.”

Djokovic said he tried in vain to play the night match after being on court until almost 2:30 a.m. Monday morning against Marcos Baghdatis in the third round.

“I didn’t really have time to recover. Conditions were extreme today and they did affect me more than him. But that was the situation, I just have to cope with it. It was unfortunate for me. I did request to play night match, but it didn’t came up good for me,” he said.

On the women’s side, third seed Dinara Safina brought the improbable dream run of Jelena Dokic to an end, defeating the resurrected home player 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Dokic, a one-time number four now ranked 187 and climbing fast, could not continue the magic as she fell to the Russian with a final set lasting for nearly an hour.

Seventh seed Vera Zvonareva booked her first semi-final at a Grand Slam and moved towards a breakthrough top five ranking with a 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Marion Bartoli.

Zvonareva is the forgotten figure among her more prominent Russian colleagues, her low-key profile assuring she remains in the shadows of the sport.

But the 24-year-old took her biggest step at a major with the victory over France’s 2007 Wimbledon finalist.

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