Roger Federer felt he had just a "three per cent chance" of winning going into his Australian Open semi-final against Novak Djokovic after battling injury.

The Swiss great made a strong start before falling to a 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-3 loss to Djokovic, who reached a record eighth final in Melbourne on Thursday.

Federer battled a groin injury during an incredible quarter-final win over Tennys Sandgren and took a medical timeout after the first set of his loss to Djokovic.

The 20-time grand slam champion admitted he felt his chances of victory over Djokovic, who has won 27 of their 50 meetings, were slim.

"Look, overall, at the end of the day I guess I'm very happy. I've got to be happy with what I achieved," Federer told a news conference.

"It was the maximum to go to get at this tournament, especially after the [John] Millman and the Sandgren match.

"Today was horrible, to go through what I did. Nice entrance, nice send off, and in between is one to forget because you know you have a three per cent chance to win. You know, got to go for it. You never know.

"But once you can see it coming, that it's not going to work anymore, it's tough. No, look, at the end of the day I'm very happy.

"I think I overall played all right. I know I can play better. At the same time, I also know I can play much worse. With no tournaments beforehand, I think it's a very, very good result."

Federer was optimistic over the injury, saying he wanted to play in a scheduled exhibition match against Rafael Nadal in South Africa on February 7.

A six-time champion in Melbourne, Federer, 38, was unsurprisingly unwilling to guarantee he would be back at the Australian Open, but he was hopeful.

"No idea. Same as last year. You never know what the future holds," he said.

"But especially my age, you don't know. I'm confident. I'm happy how I'm feeling, to be honest. I got through a good, nice training block. No plans to retire.

"From that standpoint, we'll see how the year goes, how everything is with the family. We'll go from there. Of course, I hope to be back."

Novak Djokovic paid tribute to Roger Federer for playing while "obviously hurt" in their Australian Open semi-final on Thursday.

Djokovic reached an outright record eighth Australian Open men's singles final with a 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-3 victory over Federer in their 50th meeting.

The Serbian star recovered from 1-4 0-40 down in the first set on his way to improving his head-to-head record over Federer to 27-23.

Federer took a medical timeout at the end of the first set, having dealt with a groin injury during his incredible quarter-final win over Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday.

And Djokovic praised his rival for playing through the pain, saying in an on-court interview: "Full respect to Roger for coming out tonight, he was obviously hurt.

"He obviously was hurt and wasn't at his best, even close to his best in terms of movement, respect for coming out and trying his best all the way through."

Djokovic, who started slowly before finding his rhythm, said Federer's injury woes impacted the way he opened the encounter.

"It was probably not exactly the right mindset from my side at the beginning of the match," the 16-time grand slam champion said.

"I was kind of looking more on how he's moving and what he's doing rather than executing my shots in the right way and it resulted with a 1-4 down and 0-40 lead for him.

"I managed to kind of dig my way through, back in the first set and it was very important to win that first set obviously mentally relaxed a little bit after that and could swing through the ball a bit more."

Djokovic will face either Dominic Thiem or Alexander Zverev in his 26th major final.

Novak Djokovic moved into an outright record eighth Australian Open men's singles final with another win over long-time rival Roger Federer on Thursday.

Djokovic recovered from a first-set deficit before recording a 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-3 semi-final victory over Federer in hot conditions on Rod Laver Arena in a match lasting two hours and 18 minutes.

A record seven-time champion in Melbourne, the Serbian star proved too good for Federer, 38, in the 50th meeting between the all-time greats, with 27 having now been won by Djokovic.

But it only came after Federer coughed up a 4-1 lead in a first set he should have won, the 20-time grand slam winner – who took a medical timeout after the opener – letting a huge chance slip.

Djokovic, who started slowly, would punish him to move within a win of a 17th major title and eighth in Melbourne, where he has never lost a semi or final, with Dominic Thiem or Alexander Zverev awaiting.

After saving two break points in the opening game, Federer – who looked sprightly after his groin worry in the incredible quarter-final against Tennys Sandgren – broke for a 2-0 lead with a wonderful backhand pass down the line.

An uncharacteristically sloppy Djokovic would break in the next game before giving up serve once more, sending a backhand wide on break point.

Djokovic dug out of a 0-40 hole when trailing 4-1 and from 0-30 down in the eighth game, those holds proving crucial when he broke to love after a poor ninth game from Federer, who produced four bad errors.

Suddenly, a set Federer looked in complete control of slipped out of his grasp, the 63-minute opener settled after the improving Djokovic played a superb tie-break.

After an off-court medical timeout at the end of the first set, Federer had the greater difficulties on serve throughout the second before Djokovic landed the break at the perfect time.

As "Nole! Nole! Nole!' chants rang out among a crowd largely backing Federer, Djokovic broke serve and took the second set with a cross-court winner following a drop shot from his opponent.


Federer tried to hang in there to begin the third but, in truth, he was causing Djokovic few problems.

Djokovic closed in on victory with a forehand winner for a break and 4-2 lead, a tough hold in the following game helping him past Federer for the fifth time in their past six meetings.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN  
Djokovic [2] bt Federer [3] 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS   
Djokovic – 31/18
Federer – 46/35

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS   
Djokovic – 11/1
Federer – 15/3

BREAK POINTS WON   
Djokovic – 4/11
Federer – 2/7

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE   
Djokovic – 73
Federer – 65

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE   
Djokovic – 73/54
Federer – 66/42

TOTAL POINTS   
Djokovic – 113
Federer – 93

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will meet for a 50th time in what is a storied rivalry that has repeatedly produced classic matches.

Djokovic leads their head-to-head 26-23 and that stands at 10-6 when the all-time greats have met at grand slams.

It is also 3-1 at the Australian Open and the Serbian, whose 16 grand slam titles are four shy of Federer's 20, will head into Thursday's semi-final in Melbourne as favourite.

Ahead of their meeting, we look at five of the classics they have delivered.

2010 US Open semi-final: Djokovic [3] bt Federer [2] 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 7-5

Flushing Meadows was Federer's playground for five straight years until 2009, when he was stunned by Juan Martin del Potro in the final. To this point, he had dominated Djokovic, too. But the Serbian managed to save two match points in a thrilling five-setter to win in almost four hours in a victory that would – even with Federer only 29 years of age – bring suggestions the Swiss maestro was on the decline.

2011 French Open semi-final: Federer [3] bt Djokovic [2] 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5)

By the time they met at Roland Garros the following year, Djokovic was a heavy favourite after incredibly winning his first 41 matches of 2011, including a second major title at the Australian Open. But Federer would end that run, wagging his finger after his stunning four-set victory. The year would still belong to Djokovic, and not before more drama against Federer.

2011 US Open semi-final: Djokovic [1] bt Federer [3] 6-7 (7-9) 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5

Having recovered from two sets down to force a decider, Djokovic reeled off the final four games and saved two match points to shock Federer, and the way he saved the first lives long in the memory. Djokovic crushed a forehand cross-court return winner that John McEnroe would describe as "one of the all-time great shots", one which even Federer struggled to accept. Djokovic would go on to win his third major of 2011.

2014 Wimbledon final: Djokovic [1] bt Federer [4] 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-4

Djokovic. Federer. All England Club. Wimbledon final. They are words sports fans dream of. Federer was in his first major decider since 2012, while Djokovic had lost his previous three grand slam finals – one to Andy Murray and two to Rafael Nadal. Federer would produce the comeback this time, coming from 5-2 down and saving a match point in the fourth to force a decider. But just as Federer looked the more likely winner, Djokovic stepped up to win a seventh major crown. The pair combined for 143 winners and just 56 unforced errors in a match Djokovic labelled the "best quality grand slam final" he had played in.

2019 Wimbledon final: Djokovic [1] bt Federer [2] 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3)

Fast forward five years and they met again, and they delivered once more on the biggest stage. Federer would be left to rue missed chances after a battle lasting four hours, 57 minutes – the longest singles final in Wimbledon history. Djokovic saved two match points at 8-7 in the fifth set before a match tie-break followed, the first in singles in the tournament's history. Djokovic would go on to win a 16th grand slam title, moving a little closer to Federer's all-time men's record total of 20.

Novak Djokovic insisted he does not feel like he is "dominating" Roger Federer despite not losing a grand slam match against the Swiss in seven and a half years.

Federer has not defeated Djokovic at a major since their Wimbledon semi-final meeting in 2012.

Despite five grand slam wins over Federer since then, four of which have arrived in finals, the Serbian does not feel like he has the upper hand ahead of their meeting in the Australian Open semi-finals on Thursday.

Djokovic insisted the 38-year-old, who won their previous meeting at the 2019 ATP Finals in London, always remains a huge threat on all surfaces.

Asked if he knew the reason for his winning streak against Federer at the majors, he said: "Not particularly, to be honest. 

"Wimbledon last year, he had two match points, he was one shot away from winning that match. It's not like I've been dominating the match-ups. 

"I've had success against him in grand slams in particular. But Roger is Roger. You know that he's always going to play on such a high level, regardless of the surface. 

"I know that whenever we get a chance to play each other, we understand it takes a big effort and it's required from us to come up with the best game in order to win against each other.

"He loves to play these kind of matches, big rivalries, semis, finals of grand slams.

"I mean, he's probably going to confirm that that's probably the biggest reason why he's still competing, to be able to compete at the grand slams against the best players in the world."

Since dropping a set in the first round against Jan-Lennard Struff, Djokovic has recorded four consecutive straight-sets victories, including Tuesday's 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-1) quarter-final triumph over Milos Raonic.

The run has followed his star showing at the ATP Cup, where he led his country to victory and beat Rafael Nadal in the final.

Djokovic is in a confident mood ahead of the match with Federer as he sits two wins away from a record eighth Australian Open title.

The second seed said: "I've been feeling well on the court. If I continue playing the way I was throughout the tournament here and also ATP Cup, I've been building. 

"I think as the time passes by, in every match, I have more confidence, I feel better. 

"In the end of the day, this is the court where I had the most success in my career."

Novak Djokovic was amazed to see Roger Federer save seven match points against Tennys Sandgren at the age of 38.

The Serbian, who will meet Federer on Thursday in the Australian Open semi-finals, marvelled at Federer's ability to stay alive in the competition and feels it proves his greatness.

Djokovic defeated Milos Raonic 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-1) in a routine quarter-final victory, while Federer's path in a 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 win was something out of the ordinary.

"What he did today was really amazing," said Djokovic. "He showed me he's one of the best players of all time.

"I mean, to come back and save seven match points at his age, he's still playing such a great tennis and proving that he deserves to be up there.

"He never gives up. When it matters the most, he's focused and he plays his best tennis. Sandgren had chances. Out of those seven match points, there were five match points where they actually had rallies.

"But credit to Roger. Amazing that he managed to come back. It's not the first time he has done that in his career. That's why he is who he is."

It was pointed out to Djokovic that he had saved six match points in his career against Federer, four across two appearances at the US Open and two in their famous Wimbledon final last year.

But he insisted he could not compare whether that feat was more surprising than the Swiss star surviving seven in the same match on Tuesday.

"I don't know, I can't compare it," he said. "I hope I get to at least one match point in a few days!

"Obviously I have tremendous respect for Roger and everything he has achieved in the sport, definitely one of my two biggest rivals. He's a great fighter.

"I have been saying many times and I'll repeat it again: the matchups against Roger and Rafa [Nadal] have made me the player I am today so I am grateful I have had so many great matches against those guys.

"Hopefully things can come together for me in a positive way on Thursday and I can have a chance to win."

Novak Djokovic was fighting back the tears as he paid tribute to Kobe Bryant after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals.

NBA legend Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday, had a close relationship with the 16-time grand slam champion.

Djokovic reached the last four at Melbourne Park with a 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-1) triumph over Milos Raonic on Tuesday.

During his on-court interview with John McEnroe, he found it difficult to maintain his composure when he was asked about Los Angeles Lakers great Bryant, whose daughter Gianna also died in the accident.

"It really caught us by surprise," Djokovic said as he wore a top that included the initials 'KB', a love heart and the basketball great's shirt numbers, eight and 24.

"He was one of the greatest athletes of all time, he inspired myself and many other people around the world and I had that fortune to have a personal relationship with him over the last 10 years.

"When I needed some advice and some support, he was there for me."

Djokovic had to stop speaking as he got upset when adding: "He was my mentor, my friend and it is just heartbreaking to see and hear what has happened to him and his daughter…"

A sign of the close relationship between the two sporting greats was highlighted when Djokovic had discussed Bryant at length shortly before the accident when he spoke to the media ahead of beating Diego Schwartzman in the previous round.

The Serbian had said the basketball star was a crucial inspiration when he endured a period of poor form and problems off the court in 2017 and 2018 when he was recovering from an elbow injury.

Djokovic had explained: "I was going through the injury with my elbow and struggling to mentally and emotionally handle all of these different things that were happening to me.

"I was dropping in the rankings and then having to work my way up. He was one of the people who was really there for me.

"He was there to give me some very valuable advice and guidelines to kind of believe and trust in myself, trust the process that I'll be back.

"I'm very grateful to him for being there for me, for being very supportive. I love Kobe – who doesn't? He's an amazing guy and one of the best basketball players and athletes of all time."

Novak Djokovic continued his dominance of Milos Raonic at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

Raonic became the fourth player to suffer 10 losses to Djokovic without once beating the Serbian star after his defeat on Rod Laver Arena.

The Canadian joined Gael Monfils, Jeremy Chardy and Andreas Seppi on Djokovic's list of opponents he has well and truly dominated on the ATP Tour.

We take a look at the four's less-than-fantastic record.

 

GAEL MONFILS (0-16)

The exciting Frenchman has a game to beat most players, but clearly not Djokovic. Monfils has had his chance on every surface and fallen on every occasion. He did beat Djokovic when they met at a futures tournament in Italy in 2004 but, at ATP and grand slam level, it has been one-sided. Monfils has had his moments, with only eight of the 16 ending in straight sets, but he has never been able to get over the line, beginning at the 2005 US Open and more recently at this year's ATP Cup.

JEREMY CHARDY (0-13)

Another Frenchman, Chardy has been in an entirely one-sided match-up since 2009. Incredibly, all 13 of Djokovic's wins have come in straight sets, even when Chardy has been ranked as high as 25 at Wimbledon in 2013. Djokovic has been ranked in the top four in 12 of these matches and never had any problems against Chardy, who reached the Australian Open quarter-finals in 2013.

ANDREAS SEPPI (0-12)

Seppi has come close to upsetting Djokovic previously, but this is just another match-up that suits the 16-time grand slam champion. The Italian journeyman likes to sit behind the baseline, a position on the court from which few can match it with Djokovic. Since their first meeting in 2006, Djokovic has won nine of their 12 matches in straight sets and survived a gigantic scare in another. That came at the 2012 French Open, when Seppi won the first two sets before falling to the eventual runner-up.

MILOS RAONIC (0-10)

Raonic's biggest strength – his serve – may be a huge advantage in most matches, but rarely when he is taking on arguably the best returner in the sport's history. That has proven to be the case, although four of his 10 losses to Djokovic have come on clay. Since 2013, Raonic has lost eight of the meetings in straight sets, while eight of the 26 sets between them have gone to tie-breaks, seven of those won by Djokovic. Unlike some of the others on this list, the 29-year-old Canadian may get a chance to end the unwanted record.

Novak Djokovic will face Roger Federer in the Australian Open semi-finals after the defending champion eased past Milos Raonic in the last eight.

The match was delayed after Federer's clash with Tennys Sandgren went to five enthralling sets, the Swiss great saving seven match points before winning despite being troubled by a groin injury.

Djokovic's progress was far more serene, the world number two dispatching Raonic 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-1) in two hours and 49 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, even though an issue with his eyesight proved problematic in the closing stages.

Raonic had lost all nine of the previous meetings with Djokovic but, having beaten Stefanos Tsitsipas and Marin Cilic en route to the quarter-finals without the loss of a set, the Canadian had reason to feel a little more confident.

Raonic fired down 35 aces against Cilic but Djokovic appeared almost telepathic in his reading of the serve, the world number 35 battling to save five break points to push the Serbian to 5-4 in the first.

Djokovic at last found the breakthrough with his fourth set point in the next game, celebrating with gusto when Raonic sent a forehand wide.

The seven-time champion was looking at ease on court, having made just two unforced errors in the opening 10 games, and he was 4-1 ahead in the second in what seemed no time at all after a brilliant backhand passing shot set him up for another break.

After being upset when some supporters cheered a missed first serve, leading to a double fault, Djokovic responded with a point to his box as he closed out the set for a 2-0 lead.

Raonic regained some of the metronomic rhythm he showed in the earlier rounds but could not put enough pressure on the Djokovic serve, a simple backhand slapped into the net at 3-2 and 30-40 in the third gifting his opponent a way out of possible trouble.

Two stunning defensive shots and a forehand down the line from Djokovic left Raonic looking ashen-faced at the net, and the Serbian bounced his racquet off the court in frustration after failing to break for a 4-3 lead.

Raonic held to love to lead 5-4 after Djokovic took a timeout for a contact lens issue, and he seemed still to be troubled by his vision as he consulted the trainer at the change of ends.

Raonic found four more big serves to stave off break points and a stylish volley made it 6-5, Djokovic's problems persisting despite applying eye drops after the previous game.

Having held serve comfortably to force the tie-break, Djokovic moved 3-0 ahead after Raonic netted a routine forehand, and a similar miss handed Djokovic the win on his first of five match points.

Roger Federer is hopeful over his injury sustained in the Australian Open quarter-final, labelling it "just pain and problems" after his epic win over Tennys Sandgren.

Federer saved seven match points in a thrilling 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 victory over Sandgren in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The 20-time grand slam champion took a medical timeout during the third set and later revealed his groin was troubling him.

Federer, 38, hopes the worry is minor ahead of a semi-final against either Novak Djokovic or Milos Raonic on Thursday.

"I don't know if you can call it an injury. It's just pain and problems. I need to figure it out now," the Swiss great told a news conference.

"But as it's not like in 18 hours, like you got a third round to play, semi-finals, you have an extra day, adrenaline, there's a lot of things. Two good nights of sleep, doctors, physios.

"Hopefully we'll find out that it's actually nothing bad, that it was just the groin that went really tight from playing a lot, who knows what, from nerves.

"I don't know. I'm hopeful. We'll find out tonight, tomorrow. The next day we'll see how it goes."

Federer has already spent 12 hours and 38 minutes on court, only winning his first two matches in straight sets and being pushed to five twice.

But despite his worries, the six-time champion in Melbourne still believes in his chances of success at the year's first grand slam.

"I mean, look, if I can get through a match like this, through a match like [John] Millman [in the third round], yeah, you do believe," said Federer, who also had treatment on his right hamstring before the final set.

"I only believe it once it's over, I shake the hand of the opponent, that it's over, that it's fine.

"So, yeah, I do always believe until it's actually over, never before."

Roger Federer was under no illusion that he survived a major scare when coming through his gruelling Australian Open quarter-final with Tennys Sandgren in five sets.

After winning the first set with little fuss, Federer began to struggle and lost the next two 6-2 to the American, requiring a medical timeout when 3-0 down in the third.

With his groin and leg causing Federer discomfort, he was on the brink of defeat in the fourth set, facing a total of seven match points.

But he showed remarkable resilience to fight back and level the contest, with a visibly frustrated Sandgren struggling to keep his emotions in check.

Federer closed out the match, taking the final set to clinch a 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 victory, but he claimed he did not deserve the victory given Sandgren outscored him in terms of aces, overall points and winners.

"You've got to get lucky sometimes, I'll tell you that," a jovial Federer said in his on-court interview. "In those seven match points you're not in control, it may not look that way.

"I don't know, I was just hoping that he wasn't going to smash the winner on that one point, and just keep the ball in play, and if he misses one or two, who knows what he's thinking about?

"Even that didn't really matter. I think he played his match, I got incredibly lucky and then as the match went on, I started to feel better again.

"All the pressure went away, and I started to play. Again, I got a little lucky with the breaks and served really well I think for most of the game, particularly at the end.

"I don't deserve this one, but I'm standing here and obviously very happy.

"I don't like calling the trainer, ever, because it's a sign of weakness and all that stuff, and I try not to show it. The best is when it's a groin [injury], so you go off court and no one knows what it is.

"I just said, 'I believe in miracles'. It could rain, there could be stuff [happening]. It [the injury] wasn't bad enough where I thought it was going to get worse, I was just stiff and tight – [I was thinking] 'let him finish me off in style', and he didn't do that, so I'm incredible lucky today, tonight… I don't even know what time it is."

The 20-time grand slam winner will face either Milos Raonic or defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals and, while the prospect of facing the latter when not 100 per cent fit is by no means kind, Federer is ready to embrace whatever happens after riding his luck.

"The draws are not getting easier, but I've got the rest of the day with nothing to do, the next day with nothing to do and then I'm playing at night. You do feel better in a couple of days and then you never know," he said.

"With these lucky escapes, you might play without any expectations anymore because you know you should already be skiing in Switzerland! I'm lucky to be here and might as well make the most of it."

Novak Djokovic's form is ominous as the Australian Open champion prepares to face Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

After a wobble in the opening round, second seed Djokovic has dominated his last three opponents en route to an 11th quarter-final appearance at Melbourne Park.

Eyeing a record-extending eighth Australian Open title, Djokovic once again looms as the player to beat in Melbourne.

We take a closer look at Djokovic as the 16-time grand slam champion prepares to meet 32nd seed Raonic on Rod Laver Arena.

Form and results

Stop Djokovic if you can. The world number two swept aside 14th seed Diego Schwartzman on Sunday. While the Argentinian proved a tougher test than Tatsuma Ito and Yoshihito Nishioka, Djokovic was far superior in the Melbourne sun. Hitting 38 winners and 31 unforced errors, the Serbian star closed out proceedings in just over two hours.

R1: bt Struff 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 2-6 6-1
R2: bt Ito 6-1 6-4 6-2
R3: bt Nishioka 6-3 6-2 6-2
R4: bt Schwartzman 6-3 6-4 6-4

Next up

Former world number three Raonic stands in the way of Djokovic and another trip to the semi-finals - a repeat of the 2015 quarter-final clash in Melbourne. Raonic blitzed Marin Cilic in straight sets to advance on Sunday. However, the Canadian's 0-9 record against Djokovic is a concern.

Draw

It is the match everyone is dreaming of. Djokovic against 20-time slam winner Roger Federer in the semis. That mouthwatering showdown could happen if Djokovic maintains his perfect record against Raonic and Federer gets past Tennys Sandgren.

What he said

"It obviously helps when you have a success on a global level. Of course, it has a very positive impact in your country. Serbia didn't really have a successful or long tennis tradition, before [Slobodan] Zivojinovic and Monica Seles. That was probably the first generation of successful tennis players coming from our country."

Rafael Nadal led tributes from the ATP Tour following the tragic death of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died following a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed.

Five-time NBA champion Bryant transcended basketball after his selection in the 1996 draft, going on to spend his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, where he claimed two Finals MVPs to go with his 2008 Most Valuable Player honour.

As the sporting world mourns his death, 19-time grand slam champion and world number one Rafael Nadal tweeted: "I woke up this morning with the horrible news of the tragic death of one of the greatest sportsman in the world. Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and other passengers. My condolences to his wife and families. I am in shock."

Rod Laver - one of the greatest tennis players of all time with 11 major titles - wrote: "Terribly sad to wake up to this news today. RIP Kobe Bryant. Too young. Deepest condolences to family and friends of the sporting legend."

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic had only spoken about Bryant - who attended last year's US Open - and his impact last week.

Prior to Sunday's fourth-round win over Diego Schwartzman at Melbourne Park, 16-time slam champion Djokovic provided an insight into Bryant following a difficult spell in 2018, which saw the Serbian star drop out of the top 20 due to an elbow injury.

"Kobe has been one of my mentors," Djokovic told ESPN. "I've had several phone conversations with him and also of course when we see each other live in the past couple of years. 

"When I was going through the injury with my elbow and struggling to mentally and emotionally handle all of these different things that were happening to me and dropping in the rankings and then having to work my way up, he was one of the people who was really there for me to give me some very valuable advice and guidelines to kind of believe and trust in myself, trust the process that I'll be back.

"I'm very grateful to him for being there for me, for being very supportive. I love Kobe, who doesn't? He's an amazing guy and one of the best basketball players and athletes of all-time."

Tennys Sandgren will play Roger Federer in the Australian Open quarter-finals after beating Fabio Fognini in a tense affair on Sunday.

The American triumphed in four sets - three of which went to tie-breaks - to knock out the 12th seed and book a meeting with Federer, who dispatched Marton Fucsovics after a nervy start.

There were few signs of the jitters for Novak Djokovic against Diego Schwartzman, while Milos Raonic's relentless serving strength saw him power past 2018 finalist Marin Cilic.

Canadian Raonic said he felt "pretty damn good" after a straight-sets win that included 35 aces, although he admitted he will need even more to beat defending champion Djokovic next.

 

SANDGREN FIGHTS THROUGH FOGNINI FRUSTRATION

Sandgren traded winners and barbs with Fabio Fognini before prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 to seal his second Australian open quarter-final berth.

Tempers frayed across four entertaining sets on Melbourne Arena, with the American becoming upset at his opponent's stalling tactics.

Fognini, the 12th seed, argued with the umpire, took a lengthy bathroom break and asked for a medical timeout to treat blisters all before the third set, leading Sandgren frustrated.

"He gets his own rules because you're afraid to step on his toes," the world number 100 told the umpire after taking the opener.

Sandgren, who lost to Chung Hyeon in the last eight two years ago, regained his composure and went on to complete the upset in three hours and 27 minutes.

FEDERER FINDS FORM AFTER EARLY WOBBLE

Federer seemed to be feeling the effects of his epic five-set victory over John Millman as Fucsovics took an early lead on Rod Laver Arena.

However, the 38-year-old recovered in supreme style and seemed somewhere close to his best tennis at the end of a 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 victory.

As the full repertoire of shots from Federer began to paint the lines, Fucsovics had little response.

The 20-time major champion is now looking forward to a first meeting with Sandgren. "I have played a lot of tennis in my life, but never against Tennys," he said.

DJOKOVIC POWERS PAST SCHWARTZMAN

Djokovic produced another dominant display to dismantle Schwartzman 6-3 6-4 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena, where the world number two kept his title hopes alive.

While Schwartzman fought hard, it was another routine outing for Djokovic - who reached his 11th Australian Open quarter-final.

Djokovic was broken for the first time since the opening round but was never really in danger, hitting 38 winners and 31 unforced errors.

"Today was a good test because Diego was in form, he hasn't dropped a set in three rounds," the Serbian said afterwards.

"Obviously he can be a very dangerous opponent from the baseline if you give him time. I knew that. I stepped out on the court with a clear game plan what I need to do."

RAONIC TAKES DOWN CILIC

It rained aces as 32nd seed and former world number three Raonic beat former runner-up Cilic 6-4 6-3 7-5.

Raonic progressed to his fifth quarter-final in Melbourne after firing down 35 aces and winning all of his service games in two hours and 19 minutes.

His reward? A showdown with Serbian superstar Djokovic, who boasts a dominant 9-0 head-to-head record.

"I'm going to have to serve well clearly, and then I think I'm going to have to get my return at a high percentage, make him play a lot of those points, and then try to be efficient on my service games," Raonic said in his news conference.

"I think we play quite opposite from each other, and he's done a good job in the past neutralising my serve. So I have really got to focus on my things well and be the one dictating."

Novak Djokovic said he is growing in confidence after the Australian Open champion dominated en route to the quarter-finals on Sunday.

Djokovic is bidding to win a record-extending eighth Norman Brooks Challenge Cup in Melbourne and the 16-time grand slam champion remains on track to add to his collection following a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory over 14th seed Diego Schwartzman.

It was Djokovic's third consecutive straight-sets win at Melbourne Park, where the Serbian second seed reached his 11th Australian Open quarter-final.

After hitting 38 winners in just over two hours on Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic told reporters:  "It feels great. I had a fantastic couple of matches in a row, centre court, last two rounds. I felt more confident going through the ball, hitting serves really well.

"Today was a good test because Diego was in form, he hasn't dropped a set in three rounds. Obviously he can be a very dangerous opponent from the baseline if you give him time. I knew that. I stepped out on the court with a clear game plan what I need to do. 

"I think I kept things pretty much in control in all three sets. Maybe could have finished the match a bit earlier. But it was a very solid performance."

Next up for Djokovic is 32nd seed and former world number three Milos Raonic, who beat Marin Cilic in three sets on Sunday.

Djokovic has dominated Raonic, boasting a flawless 9-0 head-to-head record, which includes a quarter-final victory at the 2015 Australian Open.

Asked to compare Raonic with fellow big servers John Isner and Karlovic, Djokovic replied: "I feel like Raonic moves better than Isner and Karlovic. I mean, he's not as tall as these two guys. They're 6'10" or something, two metres 10. They're the tallest players to ever play tennis.

"Obviously it's a huge advantage when you hit serves from that height. You can hit any angle, anything you really want. That puts a lot of pressure on your opponent. But that also has some disadvantages in terms of movement. If the returner gets the ball back in play, then I think Raonic is better than these two guys. 

"But I feel like maybe you could read his serve better than Isner and Karlovic. I don't want to say it's slightly slower, but just a little bit of a different toss, different technique. You can probably get some looks at second serves or breakpoints and stuff like this maybe a bit more than the other two guys. It's such a minor difference that you don't really notice it so much. But on the court it makes a big difference."

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