• ATP Tour

Federer craving rest after Djokovic defeat

ESPN staff
May 20, 2012
Roger Federer had no answer to Novak Djokovic © PA Photos

Roger Federer says fatigue left him unable to produce his best tennis against Novak Djokovic, with the Swiss star admitting he was "not quite good enough" to beat the world No. 1.

Djokovic proved a step too far for Federer in Saturday's Internazionali BNL d'Italia semi-final, the Serb turning in a phenomenal performance to send the third seed packing 6-2 7-6(4).

Entering the last-four contest, Federer had won 14 of their 24 meetings, but the 16-time grand slam champion found his rival in inspired form and could not prevent the defending champion from setting up a showdown with Rafael Nadal.

Locking horns for the first time since their five-set battle in the 2011 US Open semi-finals, which ended with Djokovic winning having saved two match points, it was Federer once again that trudged off the court licking his wounds.

After the loss, Federer, who has gone on to win seven ATP titles since that heartbreaking defeat at Flushing Meadows - including last week's Madrid Open, admitted he felt relief the tournament had come to an end after a gruelling recent schedule.

"Overall, I wasn't playing quite good enough," Federer said. "I've played a lot of tennis in the last few weeks. Novak was looking fresh, he was better tonight. He really put pressure on me."

Djokovic, meanwhile, is on course to claim a third Rome Masters title, although Nadal will have something to say about that in Sunday's showpiece.

"This was my best match on clay so far," Djokovic said. "I was focused from the beginning and very determined and concentrated. I was hitting the ball well and returning extremely well. I was making him play the extra shot and make errors. I'm very pleased to be back in the final."

Nadal won the pair's last meeting in April for the Monte Carlo title, although that victory came on the back of seven consecutive losses dating back to March 2011.

"I've raised the level of our rivalry," Djokovic said. "Playing Rafa in the finals again is very encouraging. It is what I want before Roland Garros."

He added: "Those results give me confidence that I can beat him. I believe I have a chance if I am as focused and determined as I was today."

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