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Originally published Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 9:21 PM

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Djokovic relentless in defeat of Ferrer

Two points from elimination in a wild, late-night ride in the fourth round, Novak Djokovic from Serbia has not squandered his reprieve. He is now back to...

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Two points from elimination in a wild, late-night ride in the fourth round, Novak Djokovic from Serbia has not squandered his reprieve.

He is now back to playing tennis on a higher plane and back in the final of another Australian Open. On Thursday night, he even gave himself the rare chance to get to bed at a reasonable hour by transforming his night-session semifinal with David Ferrer into a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 rout.

Ferrer is a name that evokes winces in the men's game. The Spaniard works up a sweat before he even makes it onto the court and takes it from there. Though his game is more subtle and varied than the stereotype that sticks with him, he is not nicknamed "The Wall" for nada.

But for now, his roadblock remains the semifinal round of a Grand Slam tournament. This was his fifth crack at a major final, and this time he was to Djokovic what the Washington Generals are to the Harlem Globetrotters: a hustling, bustling prop to help remind others of Djokovic's brilliance.

"He played very, very good, no?" said the fourth-seeded Ferrer. "I didn't have any chance to win tonight."

Ferrer, now 30, was perhaps a bit weary after his great, five-set escape against Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals; perhaps wearier still pushing through to the Davis Cup final while his leading rivals rested.

He also does not match up well with Djokovic.

"There's nothing Ferrer does that Djokovic doesn't do better," said Jim Courier, the U.S. Davis Cup captain. "That's nothing against David. Just a fact."

Ferrer had beaten Djokovic five times in their 14 previous matches but never on an outdoor hard court and never in a Grand Slam tournament. Though he is rightly known as one of the world's great returners, he could win only seven points against Djokovic's serve. Meanwhile, Djokovic was capitalizing on all seven of his own break points.

Djokovic will play the winner of the Roger Federer-Andy Murray match in the final.

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