Novak Djokovic reaches Australian Open semifinals with crushing straight sets win over Andrey Rublev
Novak Djokovic Continued his impressive form on Australian OpenSidelining the world number 6 Andrei Rublev in straight sets to reach the semifinals.
It was another close display of tennis from the 35-year-old, as he continued his seemingly inexorable march towards a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory in just over two hours. three minutes
Djokovic is now playing the best tennis of his career and has dropped just 12 games in his last two matches, extending his winning streak at the Australian Open to 26, equaling Andre Agassi’s record. have done
The early signs were ominous for Rublev, who was still feeling the effects of his five-set epic against Holger Roon, with the Russian breaking in his third service game.
It was a blow from which he never seemed to recover, as Djokovic ran away with the match and moved a step closer to winning a record-extending 10th Australian Open title.
“I would rank this win as number 2 [this year], but was very close to the performance two nights ago,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “I couldn’t be happier with my tennis. I’m playing very strong from the back of the court, I love playing in these conditions… This court, I’ve said before, it’s the most special court for me.
“The scoreline in the first two sets doesn’t speak to the reality of the match, we had some close matches. Andre is a great opponent and a great player, I have a lot of respect for him. I knew what the game plan was, but one thing is how you want to play and another thing is to execute on the court. In the most important moments, I found my best tennis.
“I’ve tried just about any biofeedback machine on the planet to get my leg ready, it worked and I’ll keep going. I miss tennis on my days off, but it’s important to be smart and intelligent with the body in these special situations where it’s more important to be ready for the next challenge. ”
Djokovic will now face American Tommy Paul in his first Grand Slam semi-final for a place in the Australian Open final on Sunday.
“Obviously, he doesn’t have much to lose, first time in the semifinals of a Grand Slam,” Djokovic said. “He’s been playing some good tennis over the last 12 to 15 months … so I’ve got to be mentally prepared, it shouldn’t be any different until the last few matches.
“If I play like this, I think I have a good chance to pass.”
After Rublev’s previous win over Rooney, many commentators commented that the Russian had already mentally given up on Djokovic.
When asked about the possibility of reaching the first Grand Slam semi-final of his career, Rublev joked that it would have been better if the quarter-final was with someone other than the Serbian.
It was a comment made in jest, but coming after a tough five-setter, it likely revealed a real fear that most players feel when they know a match against Djokovic is coming up.
Indeed, in the opening stages, Rublev had already started to cut a desperate figure as Djokovic’s early brilliance forced him to try and fight for every point to win.
With Rublev’s resistance broken in his second service game and already looking beaten, Djokovic broke again soon after and ran away to win the first set 6-1.
The second set was a slight improvement, at least, as Rublev served twice before being broken, but it looked like he could do little to stop Djokovic’s onslaught. It always felt like it was just a matter of when the ruble would break.
Despite winning comfortably so far, Djokovic was frustrated on court and shouted at his box several times during the second set.
It was unclear exactly what he was upset about, but the wind blew through Rod Laver Arena several times during rallies, forcing both men to commit fouls.
Or, perhaps, Djokovic has been so accustomed to near-perfection this entire tournament, that just one stray shot was a shock to the system.
“You have to make changes and adapt to the conditions,” Djokovic said of the wind after the match. “When I was practicing it wasn’t windy around six o’clock and it started at the start of the match.
“When you have a strong wind at your back, the people in the stands or on TV don’t see much of a difference, but for the players, it makes a huge difference.”
The second set proved to be a much tougher test for Djokovic as he faced serious pressure on serve twice – 3-2 and 5-2 – but held on to take commanding two-set leads on both occasions.
Things soon turned sour for Rublev, as he was broken in the first game of the third set this time. If the match wasn’t over before, it certainly is now.
To Rublev’s credit, he continued to fight for every point and took the third set longer than the previous two, but it wasn’t enough to deny Djokovic a place in his 10th Australian Open semi-final.