Djokovic cautious of semi-final underdog in quest for twenty second Slam title

Novak Djokovic has received all 9 of his Australian Open semi-finals and isn’t able to let Tommy Paul destroy his unblemished document on Friday as he closes in on a twenty second Grand Slam crown.

The Serb, who received his first Slam at Melbourne Park in 2008, struggled bodily within the early rounds this yr with a hamstring damage.

However straight-sets thrashings of Alex de Minaur and Andrey Rublev for the lack of simply 12 video games ominously signalled that the favorite is again to his greatest for the semi-finals.

Ought to he beat the unseeded American Paul on Rod Laver Enviornment, he’ll face both third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or Russian 18th seed Karen Khachanov as a last roadblock to a tenth Australian Open title on Sunday.

Djokovic has further motivation to go all the best way and equal Rafael Nadal’s twenty second Grand Slam crowns after lacking final yr’s occasion when he was deported over his Covid vaccination stance. In his absence the Spanish nice received.

“I at all times attempt to give my greatest, notably in Grand Slams, as a result of at this stage of my profession these are the tournaments that depend essentially the most,” stated the 35-year-old.

“However you could possibly say that there’s something further this yr. You may say as a result of, yeah, the damage, what occurred final yr, I simply wished to essentially do properly.

“To date I’ve an ideal rating in Australian laborious courts, in Adelaide (which he received) and right here. I have been enjoying higher and higher. I could not ask for a greater scenario to be in in the mean time.”

With Djokovic on a 26-match win streak on the Australian Open — equalling Andre Agassi’s Open-era document on the first Grand Slam of the yr — the Thirty fifth-ranked Paul is a heavy underdog.

The 25-year-old is a shock semi-finalist, making this far at a significant for the primary time on the 14th try.

“We by no means performed a match towards one another. Clearly he is fairly snug right here in Australia,” Paul stated.

“It may be a difficult match, however I am enjoying a few of my greatest tennis, so it is a good time.”

Djokovic stated he had been monitoring the American and wouldn’t underestimate the problem.

“He is been enjoying most likely the tennis of his life,” he stated. “Very explosive, very dynamic participant. I feel he can hit all of the spots with the serve. Very full participant.

“First semi-finals for him, so after all he does not have a lot to lose.”

– ‘Magical experiences’ –

Tsitsipas meets Khachanov within the different last-four showdown on Friday, aiming to snap a run of three semi-final losses in Melbourne, together with over the previous two years.

Now 24, he believes he has matured and that this might lastly be his yr as he bids to change into the youngest champion since Djokovic received the title in 2011 aged 23.

“I am feeling nice with my tennis. I do not suppose I felt so good in a very long time,” the Greek stated.

“I’ve stated it — I am a special participant (from the previous), enjoying completely different. My mentality is completely different.”

He has received all 5 earlier encounters with Khachanov, most just lately on the Rome Masters final yr, and stated he was desperate to face the Russian once more.

“It is a match that I am wanting ahead to,” he stated. “I am wanting forward for extra, for higher. Seeking to create some magical experiences right here in Australia.”

The 26-year-old Russian additionally made the semi-finals at September’s US Open.

He has now made the quarters or higher in any respect 4 Grand Slams and can draw on the expertise when he performs the Greek star.

“I feel the primary semi-finals, which I did in US Open, that gave me an additional increase and additional confidence to point out the place I actually am, and what I can do after I’m at my greatest,” he stated.

“I feel all these issues collectively, they push me to the place I’m proper now.”


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