Novak Djokovic produced a masterful performance as he accounted for former world number one Roger Federer to progress to the Australian Open final.
Another titanic clash was expected in the 45th showdown between two of the sport’s greatest players and it did not disappoint, despite Djokovic racing out to a two-sets-to-love lead as the five-time Australian Open winner and defending champion triumphed 6-1 6-2 3-6 6-3 on Thursday.
The semi-final battle on Rod Laver Arena saw Djokovic move clear of Federer 23-22 on head-to-head, meaning the Serb now has a winning record against the Swiss great, as well as rivals Rafael Nadal (24-23), Andy Murray (21-9) and Stan Wawrinka (20-4).
After being described as perfect and unbeatable by his rivals prior to the tournament, Djokovic looked anything but following an unconvincing five-set win over Gilles Simon in the fourth round, while Kei Nishikori was not without his chances in the quarter-finals.
However, Djokovic was back to his frightening best for the majority of the semi-final as 17-time major champion Federer was left searching for his first slam since Wimbledon in 2012.
Federer won the toss and opted to receive, a questionable decision among pundits that backfired early as Djokovic, who started the match with an ace, broke in the second game.
Continuing to pin Federer in the back corner and not allowing the Swiss to make shots, Djokovic unleashed a sublime forehand passing shot to consolidate and make it 3-0.
The Serb then broke again the very next game before he hit another breathtaking passing shot, which left Federer helpless and trailing a set to love after just 22 minutes.
Almost flawless in the opening set, Djokovic continued to show no mercy in the second.
Stunned and rattled, Federer simply had no answer for Djokovic, who drew first blood again in the third game, breaking serve as he opened up a 3-1 buffer.
Djokovic then powered away to claim a commanding two-sets-to-love lead, tallying a total of 12 winners, after Federer posted just 11 through two sets.
But just as Djokovic seemed certain to win in a canter, Federer weathered the onslaught in the third set and managed to finally break the former after four opportunities in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead.
Federer then converted the third of three set points to force a fourth set.
But that was the motivation Djokovic needed as he broke in the eighth and decisive game, despite Federer producing arguably the shot of the tournament after the Serb failed with two overheads, before he served out the match.
Djokovic  bt Federer  6-1 6-2 3-6 6-3
Djokovic – 10
Federer – 5
Djokovic – 33/20
Federer – 34/51
BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 5/9
Federer – 1/4
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Djokovic – 67
Federer – 57
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Djokovic – 77/66
Federer – 61/49
Djokovic – 115
Federer – 82