Dominic Thiem says he or Alexander Zverev must win the Australian Open to "break a barrier" at Melbourne Park after he dumped Rafael Nadal out at the quarter-final stage.

Thiem had lost all five grand slam encounters with Nadal before coming out on top in a thriller on Wednesday, winning 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (8-6) at Rod Laver Arena.

The Austrian, twice a runner-up to Nadal at the French Open, and Zverev will do battle on Friday for the right to face Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer in the final.

Zverev said he felt he had overcome one major obstacle by reaching his maiden major semi-final this week, but Thiem says the younger players still have a long way to go before there can be any talk of a changing of the guard.

"I don't feel really like that I broke a barrier. It was just an unbelievable match, like an epic one, four hours 10 [minutes]," the 26-year-old said of his titanic tussle with 19-time major winner Nadal.

"That's what I'm most happy about. Also, of course, that I'm for the first time in the semis of the Australian Open. That's for me a barrier. But to really break a barrier, one young player has to win a slam.

"Yes, one of us going to be in the finals. But it's still a very long way to go. I mean, the other semi-final is still two of the big three.

"I think we are a pretty long way from overtaking or from breaking this kind of barrier."

Thiem is relishing the opportunity to face Zverev, 22, with so much on the line and is expecting a tight contest against the seventh seed, who has won just two of their eight ATP Tour matches.

The fifth seed added: "We know each other. For me, it's funny because it's first time in a grand slam semi-final I face a younger guy. We're good friends, I'm happy for him, as well, that he's playing so good here.

"He made his breakthrough at a grand slam. We have no secrets from each other. We played so many times, also on very special occasions already, at the ATP Finals, semis, French Open quarters.

"It's a nice rivalry we have. It's great that we add an Australian Open semi-finals to this one and it's going to be a close match again.

"If two top-10 players play each other in the semis of a slam, the deciding moments are very small, small margins. I'm looking forward to it. I try to regenerate as good as possible and then try to be 100 per cent ready for Friday."

Rafael Nadal was sad to suffer defeat to Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open, but insisted he was satisfied with his performance, as well as his attitude, in the quarter-final clash.

Thiem beat Nadal for the first time in six attempts at a grand slam with a tense 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (8-6) win in four hours and 10 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

The Austrian progresses to meet Alexander Zverev in the semi-final on Friday, while the world number one is left to reflect on a missed opportunity to draw level with Roger Federer on 20 major titles.

But Nadal had few complaints after the loss, praising Thiem as a worthy winner.

"He's playing great," the 33-year-old said of Thiem. "He's playing with a lot of energy, aggression, determination. So just well done to him.

"I honestly didn't play a bad match, no, no. My attitude was great during the whole match. 

"Of course, I am sad. I lost an opportunity to be in the semi-finals of another grand slam. But I lost against a great opponent and he deserved it too.

"[I was] good, positive, fighting spirit all the time, giving myself more chances. That's what I tried. I did not give up in one moment during the whole match and gave myself an opportunity until the last point.

"Happy for that because my level of concentration and tennis was better. I think the concentration was even better than the tennis, but the tennis was not bad at all."

Nadal, who had 49 winners to 33 unforced errors and converted four of his nine break points, found the conditions difficult at times.

The Spaniard added: "It was difficult to play against him. [I'm] happy, but I need a little bit more determination in some moments - it's true that in some moments conditions have been a little bit heavy.

"Honestly, when the ball was new for me, I was better. I had two breaks and I felt more comfortable with the new balls.

"Then the ball became so heavy. He's younger, he's very quick. With these heavy balls, it's difficult to produce winners sometimes. He has a lot of power, so he's able to produce these amazing shots from a very difficult position."

Nadal, who only lost five fewer points than Thiem across the match, was asked if he felt there was any more he could have done to find a way to win.

"Yes - win any tie-break!" he said. "But that's how it works. Sometimes things are not going the way that you would like. It has been a very good match with a good level of tennis.

"I had a big chance with 5-3 in the first. I had set point serving. That was a very important moment of the match, for sure. Then I didn't play a good tie-break. I was back in the second set, but he played with the right determination.

"He played great matches against me in the past too, great quality tennis. We like each other in terms of character - I like his attitude and probably he likes mine too! 

"We have things that we can compare with each other in some ways and I wish him all the very best for the rest of the tournament."

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.

Dominic Thiem produced a magnificent display to avoid more major misery at the hands of Rafael Nadal and reach his first Australian Open semi-final at the expense of the world number one.

Nadal had won all five grand slam encounters with Thiem - including two French Open finals - but the Austrian dumped the top seed out with a stunning 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (8-6) victory in four hours and 10 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Thiem had never reached the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park before this week, but will face Alexander Zverev in the last four after coming through a huge, tense battle on a warm Wednesday evening.

Top seed Nadal had disagreements with chair umpire Aurelie Tourte as his hopes of winning a 20th grand slam title were ended in a pulsating contest.

Alexander Zverev is standing by his promise to donate the entire 4,120,000 Australian dollars in prize money if he wins the Australian Open after reaching the semi-final.

Following his first-round win at Melbourne Park earlier this month, Zverev pledged to give the winner's prize fund to bushfire relief if he went all the way in the year's opening grand slam.

The gesture touched hearts in Australia and it is a step closer to fruition after seventh seed Zverev progressed to his maiden slam semi-final thanks to Wednesday's 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 win over Stan Wawrinka. 

"I mean, my parents grew up in the Soviet Union, where you were a professional tennis player, my dad would make money outside the country, but he would have to give it away when he was getting into the country," Zverev, who will face either Rafael Nadal or Dominic Thiem in the final four, told reporters. 

"Funny enough, for them, where they never had any money, you would think that now maybe we have some, you want to keep it all for yourself. But they always said that money is something that should cause change in the world and should be put into a good thing, not keep it in a bank account and do nothing with it.

"Of course, if I win the four million, it's a lot of money for me. I'm not Roger [Federer], I'm not LeBron James, something like that. This is still big. But at the same time I know that there's people right now in this country, in this beautiful country, that lost their homes and actually they need the money. 

"They actually depend on it, building up their homes again, building up their houses again, building up the nature that Australia has, the animals as well. I think there's much better use for those people with that money than I have right now."

"When I first said it, everybody came up to me: I really want to see you give that four million cheque to somebody else and not keep it. Like, I am going to do it. It's not a problem for me. Players couldn't really believe it," he continued.

"But as I said, at the same time there are other people that are more money-driven than me. I just believe with this money I could start something positive. This is what matters most to me, not what somebody else thinks about it."

Zverev completed a stunning turnaround against three-time major champion Wawrinka after losing the opening set in just 24 minutes.

After the lopsided set, Zverev rallied and turned the match on its head to become the first German since Tommy Haas (Wimbledon 2009) to progress to a slam semi.

Finally living up to the hype, having struggled at slam level, 11-time ATP Tour winner Zverev said: "I've done well at other tournaments. I've won Masters Series, World Tour Finals. But the grand Slams were always the week where I kind of even wanted it too much. 

"I was doing things in a way too professional. I was not talking to anybody. I wasn't going out with friends. I wasn't having dinner. I was just really almost too, too focused. Changed that a little bit this week. I'm doing much more things outside the court. 

"I also was playing that bad at ATP Cup that I didn't have any expectations. I wasn't really expecting myself in the semi-finals or quarter-finals. Maybe this is a steppingstone. Maybe this is how it should happen. We'll see how it goes now in two days' time."

Garbine Muguruza emphasised the importance of patience after the two-time grand slam champion reached the Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

After struggling for form following her 2017 Wimbledon triumph, former world number one Muguruza has looked like a player reborn in Melbourne since reuniting with former coach Conchita Martinez.

Muguruza – who split from Martinez two years ago – advanced to her first semi-final since the 2018 French Open after outlasting 30th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena midweek.

Unseeded for the first time at a slam since 2014, Muguruza was asked if her comeback was like returning from a coma and the 26-year-old Spanish star replied: "I think a 'coma' is a pretty strong comment. I would say I think those years were less successful if you compare them to my previous years.  

"That's how I see it. I don't see it at all as a coma. I just think you struggle as a player, and there are moments where things don't go your way. You just have to be patient and go through the rough moments, just hang in there and it will come back again."

Muguruza, who next meets 2018 runner-up Simona Halep on Thursday for a place in the women's decider, added: "It is always special to get deep in a grand slam. Very excited to be playing tomorrow [Thursday] again. It's a very long tournament. You have very tough opponents, not being seeded as well.

"I'm just happy that I'm going through every match. We'll have to see it more."

Quizzed on the pressures of winning a slam and continuing to challenge, Muguruza told reporters: "I think people forget how hard it is, and expect always the top players to deal with that. It is very hard. 

"I think once you have done it, it definitely gives you a certain confidence that you can handle two weeks' competition, grand slam, playing many matches. Not a lot of people can say that they have done it.

"In my case, I know it's where I feel the most motivated. I just don't think too much about it. I'm just happy to be here, excited to see how far I can go."

Alexander Zverev reached his first grand slam semi-final after overcoming a horror start against 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, completing a stunning turnaround in four sets.

Zverev, 22, was annihilated in a lopsided opening set but the seventh seed rallied past three-time major champion Wawrinka 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Already enjoying his best Melbourne Park run, highly rated Zverev has yet to deliver on his enormous potential at slam level, but the 11-time ATP Tour champion became the first German since Tommy Haas (2009 Wimbledon) to progress to a major semi.

Zverev, who has promised to donate his entire prize money should he win the tournament, will face either world number one Rafael Nadal or Dominic Thiem in the final four.

It was a jaw-dropping start from the near-flawless Wawrinka as the veteran – without a semi-final appearance since the 2017 French Open – steamrolled Zverev in a 24-minute opening set.

Imposing, powerful and precise, Wawrinka raced out to a 5-0 lead through 16 minutes against Zverev – who was powerless after shanking a forehand into the upper tier of Rod Laver Arena.

Wawrinka – struck down by injuries in recent years – won 100 per cent of his first serves and hit seven winners as Zverev lost a set for the first time this tournament.

While the first set was one-way traffic, the second was anything but as Zverev flicked the switch and wrestled back momentum.

Zverev, who was coming off just 11 points, went from tallying 10 unforced errors in the first to just two in the second set to claw himself back in the contest, also winning all 18 of his first serves.

Having not earned a break point chance in the opener, Zverev finally broke through in the eighth game after Wawrinka fired a forehand into the net as he levelled the match.

It was a topsy-turvy third set – the pair exchanging breaks to begin with before Zverev broke in the fifth game to move ahead following Wawrinka's backhand into the net.

Wawrinka saved a pair of set points at 5-3 but it only delayed the inevitable as Zverev took a two-sets-to-one lead and the latter rode his momentum in the fourth.

Zverev broke twice inside the opening three games of a one-sided set, with Wawrinka avoiding a bagel in a consolation for the 34-year-old.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Zverev [7] bt Wawrinka [15] 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS   
Zverev – 34/28
Wawrinka – 35/39

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS   
Zverev – 13/1
Wawrinka – 4/5  

BREAK POINTS WON  
Zverev – 5/13
Wawrinka – 3/6

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Zverev – 80
Wawrinka – 56

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Zverev – 76/42
Wawrinka – 69/52

TOTAL POINTS  
Zverev – 104
Wawrinka – 94 

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry with a 50th meeting when they do battle in the Australian Open semi-finals.

The all-time greats have been on contrasting runs in Melbourne, where seven-time champion Djokovic will enter their clash on Thursday as favourite.

But Federer cannot be written off in the semi-final encounter most were hoping for once the draw was made.

We take a closer look at the pair ahead of the showdown.

Form and results

For the first time in his career, Federer has reached a grand slam semi-final without facing a top-40 player, but the Swiss 20-time grand slam champion has made hard work of his run. He was tested by John Millman and Tennys Sandgren, saving an incredible seven match points against the latter. Federer appeared to be battling injury during the clash against the American world number 100, but was later hopeful it was "just pain and problems" amid worries over his groin.

R1: bt Johnson 6-3 6-2 6-2
R2: bt Krajinovic 6-1 6-4 6-1
R3: bt Millman 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10-8)
R4: bt Fucsovics 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2
QF: bt Sandgren 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3

Djokovic, meanwhile, has been relatively untroubled since a brief hiccup in the opening round against Jan-Lennard Struff. Having been particularly pleased with his serve, the Serbian star has dominated, dropping just one set. Djokovic has won 84 per cent of his first-serve points, which is behind only Ivo Karlovic and Thiago Monteiro – who played two and one matches at the tournament respectively.

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 [14] 6-3 6-4 6-4
QF: bt Raonic [32] 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-1)

Next up

Djokovic is the favourite in the 50th meeting between the all-time greats, his form and condition seemingly giving him the upper-hand against Federer. He holds a 26-23 record over the 38-year-old, but was beaten in straight sets when they met at the ATP Finals late last year. At grand slams, Djokovic holds a 10-6 record, while he has won three of their four Australian Open meetings. Djokovic is unstoppable when he gets to this stage in Melbourne – he has won the tournament every time he has reached the semi-finals.

Draw

Whoever secures a spot in the final will face Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev or Stan Wawrinka.

What they said

Federer: "I think conditions suit us well here. Start the year strong, probably something to do with court speed, feeling comfortable down here."

Djokovic: "Roger is Roger. You know that he's always going to play on such a high level, regardless of the surface. He loves to play these kinds of matches, big rivalries, semis, finals of grand slams."

Simona Halep said she is "more confident" thanks to the experience of winning two grand slams as the in-form former world number one looks to add the Australian Open title to her growing collection.    

Halep is flying high in Melbourne following Wednesday's quarter-final demolition of Anett Kontaveit - the former French Open and Wimbledon winner claiming a 6-1 6-1 victory in just 53 minutes.

Yet to drop a set at Melbourne Park, Halep was beaten in the 2018 Australian Open final against Caroline Wozniacki but the Romanian star is on track to go one step further this year.

Halep – who ended her wait for a maiden major at the 2018 French Open following three losing slam finals – was asked if it feels easier to win now and the fourth seed told reporters: "It's different in my mind. It's not easier at all. 

"You still feel the pressure. You still feel the heaviness of this tournament.

"I just feel more confident and I feel like I'm able to do it. It's just a feeling that you don't see this trophy is impossible anymore. This is what I'm feeling about the grand slams now."

Halep added: "Any grand slam, it's a priority. I will not just choose one. But, of course, it's going to be great if I will be able to win one on hard court."

It was a devastating display from Halep on Rod Laver Arena, where the fourth seed reeled off 11 consecutive games to blitz her Estonian opponent under the bright Melbourne sun.

Kontaveit was powerless to stop the onslaught as Halep looks ahead to a semi-final against fellow two-time slam champion and former world number one, Garbine Muguruza.

"Perfection doesn't exist, but I'm very happy with the way I played. I felt great on court," Halep said. "I was moving great. I felt the ball, like, really, really good. It was a great match."

Garbine Muguruza's renaissance continued after the two-time grand slam champion overcame Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5 6-3 to reach the Australian Open semi-final. 

Unseeded for the first time at a slam since 2014, Muguruza has looked a rejuvenated force in Melbourne following her reunion with former coach Conchita Martinez – the pair split in 2018 following the Spanish star's 2017 Wimbledon triumph.

And former world number one Muguruza moved through to her first major semi-final since the 2018 French Open thanks to Wednesday's hard-fought win against 30th seed Pavlyuchenkova.

Muguruza will now face 2018 runner-up Simona Halep for a place in the women's decider.

Holds of serve were at a premium from the outset in Melbourne as Muguruza – back in the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time since 2017 – and Pavlyuchenkova traded breaks in sunny conditions. 

Pavlyuchenkova – on a giant-slaying mission after stunning 2016 champion Angelique Kerber and second seed Karolina Pliskova en route to the quarters – claimed the first break in the third game. A double-fault handing the Russian an early 2-1 lead, which set the tone for an absorbing and topsy-turvy contest.

Double-faults were a theme after Pavlyuchenkova handed Muguruza the opportunity to break back immediately following a tense battle at the net, before the latter fended off a break point chance to hold for a 3-2 advantage.

Proving difficult on serve, breaks continued to come and go until Muguruza bucked the trend by holding serve with a powerful winner down the line in the 11th game and a double-fault gifted the Spaniard the chance to close out the 56-minute set on her opponent's racquet and she duly converted.

The second set followed a similar pattern, with three breaks of serve after five in a tense opener.

But most importantly, Muguruza claimed two of those – the decisive break coming to love in the sixth game – as the 26-year-old progressed to her maiden semi in Melbourne.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Muguruza bt Pavlyuchenkova [30] 7-5 6-3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS   
Muguruza – 21/21
Pavlyuchenkova – 18/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS   
​Muguruza – 6/4
Pavlyuchenkova – 4/8

BREAK POINTS WON  
​Muguruza – 5/7
Pavlyuchenkova – 3/6 

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
​Muguruza – 56
Pavlyuchenkova – 67

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
​Muguruza – 75/39
Pavlyuchenkova – 64/14

TOTAL POINTS  
​Muguruza – 71
Pavlyuchenkova – 56

Simona Halep raced through to her second Australian Open semi-final after mercilessly blitzing Anett Kontaveit in straight sets on Wednesday.

Former world number one Halep dismantled 28th seed Kontaveit 6-1 6-1 in just 53 minutes on Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park.

A two-time grand slam champion, Halep barely raised a sweat as the fourth seed reeled off 11 consecutive games before the helpless Kontaveit finally halted the slide at 5-0 in the second set, but it was too little too late.

Halep – the 2018 runner-up – will face either Garbine Muguruza or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a spot in her second Australian Open final.

Kontaveit was attempting to become the first Estonian to reach a slam semi-final after beating Astra Sharma, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Belinda Bencic and Iga Swiatek en route to the final eight.

But she was no match for Romanian star Halep, who is yet to drop a set at this year's major in Melbourne.

A battle from the baseline, Kontaveit held her own early but she was quickly put to the sword as Halep broke in the third game and never looked back.

Kontaveit, who initially dug herself out of a 0-40 hole in the fifth game as Halep broke at the fifth opportunity, faded quickly without a trace.

Halep continued where she left off in the second set, racing out to a devastating 5-0 lead in front of a stunned crowd.

Kontaveit stopped the rot to hold serve, though Halep – who has never dropped a set against the Estonian – served out the second set in just 24 minutes.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Halep [4] bt Kontaveit [28] 6-1 6-1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS   
Halep – 12/10
Kontaveit – 15/15

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS   
Halep – 5/1
Kontaveit – 0/0

BREAK POINTS WON  
Halep – 5/11
Kontaveit – 0/1

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Halep – 78
Kontaveit – 66

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Halep – 78/44
Kontaveit – 48/44

TOTAL POINTS  
Halep – 54
Kontaveit – 34

Coco Gauff and Serena Williams will team up next week when generations join forces as the United States begin their Fed Cup campaign.

Fifteen-year-old Gauff and Williams, 38, were named in a formidable-looking five-player squad for the qualifying tie against Latvia, which will be played in the city of Everett, near Seattle.

Gauff is in line to become the second-youngest player to represent the US in the Fed Cup, if she sees action in the two-day tie.

Only Jennifer Capriati has played at a younger age, with the future grand slam winner and world number one being just 14 years and four months old in 1990 when she played against Poland.

Joining Gauff and Williams will be Sofia Kenin, who has reached the semi-finals of the ongoing Australian Open, plus world number 19 Alison Riske and doubles specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

World number nine Williams saw her hopes of landing a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title in Melbourne dashed by a shock third-round defeat to China's Wang Qiang.

It was a result that prompted Williams to indicate she would work harder than ever to push for the record.

The veteran has never lost a Fed Cup singles match, being the holder of a 13-0 record, putting her two wins short of matching Martina Navratilova's career 15-0 mark.

Gauff went one round further than Williams in Australia before losing to compatriot Kenin, with the teenager having claimed the scalps of Venus Williams and defending champion Naomi Osaka on her run.

The US Fed Cup team is captained by former top-10 player Kathy Rinaldi, with the Latvia tie to be played on February 7-8.

Latvia have world number 33 Anastasija Sevastova and former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in their ranks.

A new Fed Cup format sees the winners of the eight February ties go on to compete at the 12-team Finals, which takes place in Budapest from April 14-19, with Australia, France, Hungary and Czech Republic already assured of their places.

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."

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