• French Open, Day 13

Djokovic bullies Federer into submission

ESPN staff
June 8, 2012
Novak Djokovic maintained his focus throughout © PA Photos

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Novak Djokovic remains on course to make history after overpowering Roger Federer 6-4 7-5 6-3 to set up a French Open final against Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic, bidding to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four grand slam titles simultaneously, coped better amid blustery conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier and his greater consistency proved key as he overturned the Swiss maestro with alarming authority.

The world No. 1 came into the clash with the memory of last year's Roland Garros defeat at the hands of Federer to banish, although if there were any lingering demons the Serb did not show it as he made an early statement, holding to love. Federer, hunting a 17th grand slam title, was soon on the board, however, opening his account in similarly assured fashion, rifling down an ace for a routine service hold to level.

Both players looked to attack at every opportunity, stepping inside the baseline where possible to get the upper hand. There were few alarms until the fifth game, when Federer jumped all over a second serve to bring up two break points. An error on the backhand side saw one go begging but he made sure with the second, hammering a forehand to finish the game.

The Swiss could not capitalise though, failing to consolidate the break as Djokovic hit back immediately. As the set moved towards its climax, the pressure to hold serve grew, and it was Federer who cracked first. After Djokovic held serve to love for 5-4, more unforced errors from the Federer racket handed his rival the set in 34 minutes.

Needing to put down a marker at the beginning of the second, Federer rallied to penetrate the Djokovic delivery before slamming a second-serve ace to go 2-0 up. Federer, who snapped Djokovic's unbeaten 41-match start to the season at last year's French Open, broke the top seed again to signal a man confident of clawing his way back into the match.

The problem was, he was facing a rival on the other side of the net who knows no other way than to fight for every point and scrap harder than ever when behind. Djokovic chanced his arm, and it caused a seismic shift in momentum; the Serb breaking to keep the set alive. And, as Federer's serve temporarily deserted him, Djokovic pounced to level at 4-4.

Federer then got his man again, only for Djokovic to return the favour with Federer serving for the set. Djokovic's never-say-die attitude was making it difficult for Federer to enjoy any cheap points and it was the world No. 3 who yet again crumbled under the pressure, missing a forehand to gift Djokovic a two-set lead.

A 44th unforced error from Federer saw Djokovic break for 4-2 in the third. With Federer self-combusting, Djokovic kept his composure brilliantly, staying calm to serve for the match at 5-3. A breathtaking backhand pass brought up two match points and, although one came and went, he moved into his first French Open final when Federer netted with a backhand.

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