Chris Evert tells Roger Federer to take risks against Novak Djokovic

Roger Federer will play Novak Djokovic (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Roger Federer will play Novak Djokovic (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images) /

Chris Evert feels we need to see a different Roger Federer against Novak Djokovic, while Dominic Thiem stunned Rafael Nadal in the last quarterfinal.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, the winners of a combined 36 Grand Slam singles titles, will do battle in the Australian Open semifinals on Thursday.

Another illustrious major champion, 18-time Grand Slam winner Chris Evert, agrees with the pre-match perception that Djokovic goes in as the heavy favorite as he closes in on a record eighth Australian Open title.

Previewing the matchup for ESPN, American Evert predicted Djokovic would come out on top in four sets to reach the final, also the outcome opted for in our match preview.

But completely writing off Federer is a dangerous game that has gone wrong before, even during these latter stages of his career. However unlikely it may be against a rampant Djokovic, there is a possible path to victory.

Novak's 7 titles. light. Aus Open

Asked what would be key in the Federer game plan, Evert outlined the areas that could be crucial if the Swiss star is to achieve an upset, or at least push the Serbian all the way.

Per ESPN, she believes we need to see a different Roger Federer to what has been on show at the Australian Open to date, one who takes risks throughout, thrives on his serve and keeps rallies short if he is to stand a chance of extending his remarkable campaign at the tournament.

Federer has embarked on a run that has seen him flirt with elimination for three consecutive rounds, with Evert highlighting the required changes against an opponent in Djokovic who will be less forgiving.

"“He has to come out a different player when he plays Novak. He doesn’t want to get into any long, drawn-out rallies.“The first three or four shots, he’s going to have to find an opportunity to end the point with his shot-making and concentrate so much on his serve and hope to get a lot of first serves in.“On the return, he has to take advantage of those second serves, maybe play a little bit aggressive and take some risks.“We’ll see him coming into the net a little more than against other players because it’s Djokovic and he doesn’t want to rally from the baseline. He’s going to have to get off to a quick start and win the first set.”"

It has taken the Swiss star 14 sets to negotiate those last three rounds against unseeded players and he had to save seven match points against Tennys Sandgren in the last eight.

Despite those struggles and epic duels undoubtedly taking their toll, hope for a competitive semifinal can be drawn from the last meeting between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, which the Swiss star won at the ATP Finals to conclude last year.

Darren Cahill, coach of Simona Halep, is another analyst to advise the 38-year-old that high-risk play and keeping the points short could prove pivotal, as it did in that victory in London.

When it comes to his struggles to reach this last-four stage, Evert felt Federer had a similar issue to Serena Williams in that many of their opponents no longer see the veteran stars as invincible.

"“He played two hot players, so credit to them. Millman and Sandgren had no pressure and could go out there and just fire balls at Roger. They knew he wasn’t as invincible as, say, five years ago.“Mentally, Roger has probably lost a slight edge, and these other guys believe they can beat him. It’s the same thing when players play Serena.”"

Despite his ATP Finals success, Federer is yet to beat Djokovic at a Grand Slam since the Wimbledon semifinal in 2012 and his opponent goes in as an overwhelming favorite for good reason, given his fine form since the start of 2020 that included an ATP Cup triumph.

Thiem vs Zverev in the other semifinal

Federer and Djokovic are the remaining members of the Big Three in the competition after world number one Rafael Nadal suffered a shock exit.

Dominic Thiem will play Alexander Zverev, a four-set winner against Stan Wawrinka, in the semifinals after a famous triumph over Nadal.

Thiem came out on top 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (8-6) in four hours and 10 minutes, with a gracious Nadal accepting after the match he had been beaten by the deserving winner (h/t Metro).

Buoyed by his win over Nadal, Thiem is favored to progress to the final and holds a 6-2 career record over Zverev, who is in his first Grand Slam semifinal.

In the women’s draw, two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza continued her impressive run, beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets.

That booked a semifinal against another two-time major champion in Simona Halep, who was a powerful 6-1 6-1 winner against Anett Kontaveit.

Next. Preview for Djokovic vs Federer. dark

The winner of the tie between Muguruza and Halep will play either Australia’s Ash Barty or the United States’ Sofia Kenin in the final on Saturday.