Novak Djokovic put behind the challenge of an ailing rival Roger Federer as he reached a record eighth Australian Open 2020 final and move closer to his 17th Grand Slam crown.

In what was their 50th match, the Serb shrugged off a tentative start to reinforce his recent dominance, showing no mercy to the Swiss maestro in a 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 6-3 win.

Djokovic will face either fifth seed Dominic Thiem or seventh-ranked German Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final. What makes the 32-year-old favourite in Sunday’s final is that of the seven Melbourne finals Djokovic has made, he has won them all.

If Djokovic does pocket the title on Sunday, it will see the Serb reclaim the number one ranking after Rafael Nadal was sent packing in the last eight.

“Respect to Roger for coming out tonight when he was obviously hurt and not even close to his best in terms of movement,” said defending champion Djokovic, who is into his 26th Grand Slam final.

“He started well at the beginning and I was pretty nervous. It was very important for me to win that first set. Mentally I relaxed after that.”

It was the fourth time Djokovic had beaten Federer at the semi-final stage in Melbourne after doing the same in 2008, 2011 and 2016.

Federer, the 2018 champion, came into the match carrying a groin injury that he picked up in his five-set, come-from-behind quarter-final win against Tennys Sandgren.

He was seen around Melbourne Park before the match with tape on his upper right leg and there were even rumours that he might pull out. But that is not in the 38-year-old’s nature – he has only ever given up four walkovers in his long career – and the show was on.