Novak Djokovic believes he will have to change his tactics against Roger Federer in the US Open semi-final.
The Swiss maestro having inflicted one of the only two defeats of Djokovic’s year along with fellow contender in the last four Andy Murray, and Federer accomplished it with aggressive tennis and a much improved backhand.
Djokovic has already won the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles this year, and made sure of his semi-final place on Thursday when Serbian teammate Janko Tipsarevic quit with an injury with the top seed 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (3/7), 6-0, 3-0 to the good.
Federer eased past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 to gain revenge for his shock Wimbledon quarter-final defeat to the Frenchman.
The 30-year-old Federer, who holds a record 16 Grand Slam titles, has every right to be confident going into Saturday’s showdown.
His French Open semi-final victory over Djokovic in June brought an end to the Serb’s stunning 43-match winning run, a streak which stretched back to December 2010 when he led his country to a maiden Davis Cup.
Despite Djokovic having lost just one further time, the Swiss star believes he has the weapons to repeat his Roland Garros heroics.
“It’s pretty straightforward. I think we’re both going to play aggressive. He’s moving well. He’s probably taken his game up to a higher level, but mostly in terms of confidence,” said Federer.
“But I think when we do play against each other it’s always exciting. We have great rallies. I like playing against him because it’s a battle of the baseline.
“He’s been having an amazing season, so it’s a challenge right now in the men’s game. That’s what I like, who I like to play against.”
Federer holds a 14-9 winning record over Djokovic and Saturday’ semi-final will be the pair’s fourth successive meeting at the last-four stage at Flushing Meadows.
Djokovic won last year’s clash, saving two match points in a five-set thriller on his way to an eventual runner-up finish against Nadal.
Federer had won in 2008 and 2009 as well as comfortably seeing off Djokovic in the 2007 final when the Serb was far from the finished product that now dominates the men’s game.
This will be their fifth meeting of 2011 and third in a Grand Slam semi-final.
Djokovic, who has 62 wins against two defeats all year, said his only concern was starting too slowly against Federer.
“I think I need to step on the court and just be close to the line, be more aggressive,” he said.
“I think the last two matches I have been starting very slow. I’m very passive.”