Defending champion Novak Djokovic strolled past Roger Federer with ruthless efficiency to reach his eighth Australian Open final on Thursday.
Once the Serbian eased through a first-set tie-break, he took total control of their 50th career meeting to win 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-3.
Federer went into the match as a big underdog after his struggles in reaching the last four and with concerns over the groin problem he picked up in his sensational victory over Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday, but he appeared to have recovered well physically.
The first set was a seesaw battle of wits. There were three breaks of serve in the opening four games and after Djokovic made a shaky start, Federer looked to be on the cusp of clinching the set at 5-2 up. But the second seed pulled his socks up and rallied to win the next three games in a row to level up.
It was inevitably settled by a tie-break situation and defending champion Djokovic produced some sublime touches around the net to run away with it.
Federer took heart from beating the Serbian at the ATP Finals in November but he had not got the better of him in a best-of-five-sets match since Wimbledon 2012, and not on hard courts for more than a decade.
“It could have definitely gone a different way. He started really well and I was pretty nervous,” said Djokovic during his on court interview.