Top-ranked Novak Djokovic faces No. 3-seed Roger Federer in the Australian Open semifinals on Thursday at 3:30 a.m. ET. It’s not an ideal start time for American viewers, but the match is well worth waking up (or staying up) for.
The marquee matchup marks the 15th time the duo has met in a Grand Slam tournament and 45th time overall, with the all-time series tied at 22 wins apiece.
Djokovic, the defending champion at Melbourne Park, advanced to the semis after defeating No. 7-seed Kei Nishikori 6–3, 6–2, 6–2, while Federer topped sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych 7–6(4), 6–2, 6–4 in his quarterfinal match.
Federer will look to even his record against Djokovic at the Australian Open, as the Serb currently holds a 2–1 advantage in Melbourne over the Swiss, having won the 2008 and 2011 semifinals and lost in the 2007 fourth round.
If you’re still not convinced, here are a few more reasons to watch Djokovic vs. Federer early Thursday morning.
It’s a rematch of two Slam finals from last year
Djokovic won his second-straight and third overall Wimbledon championship after downing Federer 7–6(1), 6–7(10), 6–4, 6–3 in July.
At the U.S. Open in September, Djokovic defeated Federer 6–4, 5–7, 6–4, 6–4 to capture his second title at the New York City tournament.
Their history of epic matches
Djokovic has dominated Federer as of late, particularly in Slams. But when the pair of all–time greats take the court against one another, they tend to play thrilling, back–and–forth tennis. The 2014 Wimbledon final was just one epic match Djokovic and Federer have played.
Shots like this by Federer
Shots like this by Djokovic
Djokovic is one win from “Big Four” supremacy
A win on Thursday would give Djokovic a career edge over each of his three biggest competitors, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. While currently tied with Federer in head-to-head victories with 22 apiece, Djokovic possesses a 24–23 career record over Nadal and a 21–9 advantage over Murray.
Federer has something to prove
Federer was dominated by Djokovic in their last two Australian Open meetings. He hasn’t taken a single set from the Serb in Melbourne since 2007, falling 7–6, 7–5, 6–4 in 2011 and 7–5, 6–3, 7–6(5) in 2008.
The Swiss has been sitting on 17 Grand Slam singles titles since he won his last at Wimbledon in 2012. Federer, 34, has fallen to Djokovic in each of his last three major finals appearances dating back to Wimbledon in 2014, while the 28-year-old has won four of the last six Grand Slam singles titles during that stretch.
Djokovic is chasing history
Djokovic currently has 10 Grand Slam titles, seven behind Federer. Djokovic won three last year, and he’s dominating the competition in a way tennis hasn't seen since Federer a decade ago. Could Djokovic win four Slams this year? It’s a very difficult task, but barring something unforeseen he’ll be a strong favorite to win each major event.
Federer can’t play forever...right?
At the 2013 Australian Open, Federer’s semifinal with Rafael Nadal was billed must–see because Federer didn’t have much time left, or so it was thought. Instead, Nadal’s play has declined while Federer has remained near the top of the sport.
Federer is 34. At some point, he has to decline, right? Right? We can’t be sure how many more times Federer will play Djokovic in an event of this caliber. You don’t want to miss witnessing greatness facing off against greatness. Appreciate it while you have the chance.