Novak Djokovic ensured Roger Federer’s grand slam title drought continued when he claimed their Australian Open semi-final in clinical fashion, but the Swiss superstar insists he’s not a spent force.
Federer’s last grand slam final win – his 17th – was at Wimbledon in 2012 and he’s been a beaten finalist three times since, losing to Djokovic all three times – at The All England Club in 2014 and 2015 and at the US Open last year.
The world No.1 stormed away to a two-set lead with some jaw-dropping tennis on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday night before Federer fought back to force it to a fourth-set decider.
But while the 34-year-old was disappointed with his performance, he still believes he is capable of turning the tables on his younger rival.
“I have self-confidence … that doesn’t fade away very quickly,” Federer said.
“I know it’s not easy. I never thought it was easy. But best-of-three (sets), best-of-five … I can run for four or five hours – it’s not a problem.
“I know you guys (in the media) make it a different case – I get that because you think I’m old and all that – but it’s no problem for me. It doesn’t scare me when I go into a big match against any player who’s in their prime right now.
“It’s disappointing, but at the same time I’m going deep in slams right now – I’m having great runs.
“Novak right now is a reference for everybody. He’s the only guy that has been able to stop me as of late.
“It’s okay. I wish I could have played a bit better, and who knows what would have happened, but today Novak was very, very good – there’s no doubt about it.”
The four-time Australian Open champion thrilled the crowd when he fought back to claim the third set, and received rapturous applause when he won the point of the match, and possibly the tournament, with a sublime backhand passing shot on the run in the fourth set.
He received a standing ovation as he departed Rod Laver Arena and assured local fans he would be back looking for his fifth Australian Open crown next year.
“I talk about it every time … how thankful I am for the crowd,” he said.
“It’s a big part of why I’m still playing today. I spend a lot of hours on the practice courts for exactly moments like these where you feel like you’re appreciated, you’re being pushed forward – they want to see you win.
“I wish I could have one more chance to play another match here this week, but I don’t, so of course I’m disappointed maybe for parts of my fans and also for myself.
“But I definitely walk away from a place like this and say, ‘I want to come back next year’. I want to re-live it again.”