• French Open, Day 13

Federer ends Djokovic streak to reach final

ESPN staff
June 3, 2011
Roger Federer has reached his first grand slam final in five attempts © PA Photos

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Roger Federer shattered Novak Djokovic's aura of invincibility by beating him in four sets to book a French Open final against Rafael Nadal on Sunday.

Federer triumphed 7-6(5) 6-3 3-6 7-6(5) to reach his first grand slam final in five attempts, while Djokovic has missed out on the chance to become world No. 1. The defeat also heralds the end of his remarkable winning streak at the start of 2011, one match short of John McEnroe's record of 42.

Djokovic entered the match having conquered all comers in the preceding months, but Federer could draw comfort from the fact he had won 13 of the 22 meetings between the two - and it was the Swiss player who made a blistering start, snatching a break in the first game.

Although he gave that game straight back - and went on to find himself 4-2 down - it was Federer who looked the more comfortable of the two, with Djokovic clumsily slipping around the court as he struggled to keep his footing on the clay.

It was no surprise then when Federer broke back for 4-3, having converted his tenth break point of the set, and went on to push Djokovic, who wasted two set points at 5-4, into a tiebreak in which Federer, at last, made his superiority tell.

In previous years, surrendering the first set would have been the precursor to a Djokovic collapse - and, although we have come to expect different in 2011, he was simply blown away by Federer at the start of the second. With the Serb playing tentatively, agonising over strokes instead of hitting instinctively, Federer took advantage to storm into a 4-1 lead.

Djokovic held his ground to force Federer to serve for the set at 5-3, but there was still an air of discontent around him - and Federer took his chance to build a two-frame advantage.

With a mountain to climb and nothing to lose, Djokovic adopted a more aggressive strategy in the third frame, putting together a run that ripped the momentum away from Federer. His devastating backhand down the line was now at its barnstorming best, and a succession of thundering winners allowed him to race into a lead that he never relinquished.

While Federer retreated into his shell in the face of a bombardment, Djokovic looked more convincing in every aspect of his game as he became the first man to take a set off Federer at this year's tournament.

The fourth set was compelling viewing, with both players succumbing to a series of uncharacteristic errors as nerves and fatigue took hold. Djokovic looked to have landed the decisive blow when he broke for 5-4, only for Federer to strike back immediately.

When the tiebreak came, it was Federer who relied on all that experience of grand slam semi-finals to clinch the victory, sealing it with an ace - and shooting down suggestions his best days are now firmly behind him.

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