Novak Djokovic has earned some breathing space after demolishing David Ferrer to keep alive his hopes of a record third consecutive Australian Open title.
The world No. 1 needed just an hour and a half on court in Melbourne on Thursday as he triumphed 6-2 6-2 6-1 against the fifth-ranked Spaniard, giving him two days' rest ahead of the final.
"At this stage of a tournament, playing semifinals against somebody that I have respect for, a great competitor, and being able to perform as well as I did, it's incredible," the Serbian told reporters.
"I have a great feeling about myself on the court at this moment. Now I have two days off before the finals which gives me enough time to get ready and recover."
Djokovic will face either second-ranked Roger Federer or world No. 3 Andy Murray, who clash on Friday in a rematch of last year's Wimbledon and Olympics finals.
"I have to be ready to expect a five-hour match or five sets," Djokovic said. "That's the kind of approach that I have to every single match that I play in grand slams, especially in the second week."
Last year he beat Murray in a five-hour semifinal before triumphing in a record-breaking near six-hour title match against Rafael Nadal a day and a half later.
This time his first big test came in the fourth round, when he battled back to beat Federer's compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka in five sets over five hours.
He then defeated world No. 6 Tomas Berdych in four sets in three and a half hours before repeating his win over Ferrer from last September's U.S. Open semis.
"I definitely prefer being fitter for the final and having a little bit more time than I had in 2012. It's quite different circumstances that I have to face this time," Djokovic said after reaching the last four of a grand slam for the 11th consecutive time.
He said he plans to watch the Federer-Murray match with great interest -- both as a competitor and as a tennis fan.
"Tennis is my life. I'm not just a player, I'm also a fan of this sport. I love to see these big matches," said Djokovic, whose 2008 success in Melbourne was his first of five grand slam titles so far.
"When Federer and Murray and Nadal are playing, those are the special kind of matches in grand slams. So I hope to see something nice tomorrow night."
Ferrer went into the fifth grand slam semifinal of his career after a tough five-set win over compatriot Nicolas Almagro, but the 30-year-old refused to make excuses.
"I didn't have any problem," said Ferrer, who also lost to Djokovic in last year's Melbourne quarterfinals.
"Novak was better than me. I didn't have any chance for to win tonight. I've never lost with a result like this."
Last year Ferrer won the most matches on the ATP Tour -- 76, one more than Djokovic -- and also captured seven titles, but he has yet to reach the final of a grand slam tournament.
"Sometimes it doesn't depends on me, it depends on my opponent. When I was in semifinals in Roland Garros, Australian Open, U.S. Open, I lost to the best three players," he said.
"I am trying to do my best every match, but I know they are better than me. What can I do?"