Melbourne :Novak Djokovic was outstanding in mastering Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych in three intense sets to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The Serbian third seed and 2008 champion won 6-1, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 in 2hr 32min and will now face defending champion Roger Federer, who he beat in the semi-finals on the way to his maiden Grand Slam title.
Djokovic had to work hard to get past the big-hitting Berdych and once he secured the second set in a tiebreaker it was all downhill from there.
"I have to be very happy with the performance," he said. "Maybe the turning point was the tiebreak in the second set where it went my way.
"If it's one set all, then it's a totally different match. Two sets up, it's a big advantage and I was starting to go for shots more in the third."
Djokovic will now get the chance to repeat his classic 2008 semi-final upset victory over Federer, who won through to the last four with a comfortable victory over his Swiss Davis Cup teammate Stanislas Wawrinka earlier Tuesday.
"So far it's been great. Tonight was a real test, because he's number six in the world and a very difficult opponent. I've played one of my best tennis in the last couple months," Djokovic said.
"So I have nothing to lose playing Federer, who's the title defender here. We all know everything about him. I have to believe in myself in order to win that match."
It was Djokovic's fourth straight Australian Open quarter-final and he has now played in the last eight or better at 14 of his last 16 Grand Slam events.
"I feel like I'm starting to play my best tennis in the last five, six months. I have more experience on the court. Physically I'm fit. I'm hitting the ball better and I have more variety in the game.
"The serve has been much better, which is very encouraging because it's been an issue for me in the last 12 months. I was hungry for more success and probably that's an explanation."
Djokovic has now won 17 of his last 18 matches against Czech men, with the only loss coming against Berdych at last year's Wimbledon.
Djokovic began well and grabbed service breaks in the fourth and sixth games to comfortably take the opening set.
But Berdych recovered in the next set, breaking Djokovic with a big return that the Serb netted in the fourth.
Berdych rammed home his advantage but Djokovic broke back in the seventh with a gem of a top-spin lob and a cracking forehand volley crosscourt.
Berdych was erratic in the tiebreaker and Djokovic went two sets up after a couple of forehand errors.
The Serb came out with renewed zest after the tiebreak and broke Berdych's serve in the fourth game of the final set to go on and break Berdych again in the sixth game.
"It's pretty solid start to the year, finishing in the quarter-finals in Melbourne," Berdych said. "That's what I was looking for before the tournament, at least to get to the quarter-finals.
"Then you play the third player in the world. It could go either way and it's not that you can beat him every day. I was trying to do my best and he was better."