Novak Djokovic has sealed his place in the Australian Open final after a thrilling victory over Roger Federer. The defending champion remains on course for his sixth title in Melbourne and will meet either Andy Murray or Milos Raonic in the final on 31 January after his 6-1 6-2 3-6 6-3 win.
Djokovic stormed through the opening two sets in a dazzling display of dominance that his opponent had no answer to. Federer looked a beaten man on the brink of elimination but responded in outstanding fashion in the third set to break the Serb and claw his way back into an absorbing contest. However, the world number one regained control in the decisive fourth set to end a spirited fightback.
Djokovic, 28, surged into a 3-0 lead in the opening set, making light work of the four-time champion. Federer pulled one game back at 3-1 but it failed to halt any momentum as the Serb roared back with a thumping forehand to take the fifth game. He wrapped up the set inside 22 minutes with Federer having already made 12 unforced errors.
Having never beaten Djokovic after losing the opening set, the signs were ominous for the Swiss. The defending champion quickly resumed control with relentless domination, finding his spots with an exquisite range of backhands and forehands. Some resistance was finally provided by Federer as he won just his third game of the contest to make it 5-2 with a neat overhead to deny Djokovic at set point, but an immediate forehand winner in response sealed the second in 32 minutes.
Federer won just four games in French Open final loss to Rafael Nadal in 2008 and needed to find some resolve in the third set to avoid matching that. He found it in spades, taking the lead for the first time in the contest in the third game after holding serve. Having not been able to get near the the champion, the 34-year-old's fightback continued in thrilling fashion as he searched for an elusive breakpoint to change the face of the contest.
Three times he got close but on each occasion Djokovic fought back for deuce. The decisive moment came as Federer broke at the fourth time of asking, meeting his opponent's drop shot with an outstanding forehand across court, bringing the crowd at the Rod Laver Arena to its feet.
A terrific forehand down the line left the Swiss just one game away from the third set, unthinkable circumstances not too long ago. Suddenly, there watch a match on again as Federer searched for the unlikeliest of turnarounds, sealing the set when Djokovic overhit a wild return.
A brutal fourth set saw Federer keep in touching distance of his opponent until the seventh game, where a decisive break saw the defending champion back in control before serving out for victory.