Djokovic ends Raonic run to set up Federer showdown

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Djokovic ends Raonic run to set up Federer showdown

Novak Djokovic continued his serene progress at the Australian Open overcoming Milos Raonic 6-4 6-3 7-6(1) to set up a semi-final showdown against Roger Federer. A match that pitted one of tennis' most aggressive servers against its preeminent returners suggested an absorbing encounter. However, while former world number three Raonic had not dropped a set coming into the quarter-final, he offered little resistance to an incessant Djokovic, who faced just two break points in a near three-hour match. Despite hitting 35 winners in the opening two sets, the 29-year-old's attempts to exert any sort of pressure on Djokovic were undone by an unforced error count that hit 31, with one break of service in each set enough for the defending champion to open up a two-set lead. While the third set was more competitive, with the seven-time Australian Open winner appearing to suffer from issues with his sight, the 32-year-old sealed his spot in the semi-final in a tiebreak he absolutely dominated. The Serbian, chasing a 17th Grand Slam crown, will face Federer – who survived seven match points against Tennys Sandgren before prevailing 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6(8) 6-3 – for a spot in the final. Ahead of the match, Djokovic paid tribute to Kobe Bryant, who was killed at age 41 on Sunday in a helicopter crash, wearing a training top with Bryant's initials and shirt numbers, 8 and 24, written on it in tribute to his friend. And after the match he told John McEnroe that Bryant was a source of inspiration, who had provided counsel during their 10-year friendship. "I don't know what we can say, you know? It really caught us by surprise; he was one of the greatest athletes of all time," said Djokovic. "He inspired myself and many, many other people around the world. " I had the fortune to have a personal relationship with him over the last 10 years and when I needed some advice and support he was there for me." "He was my mentor, my friend and it is just heart-breaking to see and hear what has happened to him and his daughter." "Obviously tremendous respect for Roger, everything he has achieved in this sport and he's been one of the all-time greats and definitely one of my two biggest rivals," said Djokovic of his semi-final opponent Federer. "I've been saying this many times and I'll repeat again: The matches with Roger and Rafa have made me the player I am today so I'm grateful that I've had so many great matches against those guys. And I hope I get to at least one match point. " It's quite amazing what he has done this on the court today and it's not the first time he has done that in his career. That's why he is who he is. Let the better player win."