Novak Djokovic through to Australian Open final and on course to equal Rafael Nadal’s all-time grand slam record



Novak Djokovic The American is on course for a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title after defeating Tommy Paul in straight sets. Australian Open semi-final on Friday, setting up a mouth-watering final with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Serbian faced tough opposition from Paul as he won 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 to reach his 33rd Grand Slam final.

Her victory came just hours after Tsitsipas defeated Russia’s Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 to reach her second career Grand Slam final. arrived in

The final is set to be a thrilling contest and whoever wins will be crowned the Men’s World No.1. Tsitsipas is looking for his first Grand Slam title, while Djokovic is just one match away from equaling Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles.

Despite battling a hamstring injury in the first round of the tournament, Djokovic has been dominant in Melbourne, sweeping his past four opponents without dropping a set. But a controversy has arisen outside the court.

Djokovic’s father, Srijan, was not present for Friday’s match, when he was shown in a demonstration with fans holding Russian flags, voicing his support for Russia.

In a video posted on YouTube by a known Vladimir Putin supporter, the Serbian player’s father can be seen posing with a fan outside Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena. The man wears a “Z” symbol on his shirt – a symbol seen as a sign of support for Russia, including its invasion of Ukraine – while holding a Russian flag with Putin’s face on it. . “Long live Russia,” he says.

In a statement released before the match, Sreejan said he was in Melbourne “only to support my son” and had “no intention of causing such headlines or disruption.”

“Therefore there is no disruption to tonight’s semi-final for my son or the other player, I have chosen to watch from home,” the statement continued.

In the semifinals, the 35-year-old player took a 5-1 lead in the first set. But Paul – a huge underdog after dreaming of reaching the semi-finals – twice broke Djokovic’s serve to level the set at 5-5.

Djokovic was able to recover from the skid and close out the opening set. As the match progressed, her class showed as she carefully picked apart her American opponent, converting seven of 11 break points.

With this win in two hours and 20 minutes, Djokovic is looking to win a record 10th Australian Open title.

Djokovic said his level was “perfect” going into Sunday’s final.

“Of course, you’re not as fresh at the start of the tournament but we put in a lot of hours in the off season. I know what’s expected and I’ve been in a lot of positions in my career,” he said in his on-court interview soon after.

“It’s a huge battle, with yourself and the opponent. Long rallies and you could feel the heavy legs in the first set but I was lucky to hold my nerve. After that I was swinging the ball more and I am happy to reach another final.”

It was the end of the road for Paul who surprised many by reaching the first Grand Slam semi-final of his career.

Currently ranked 35th in the world, Paul became the first American to reach the last four of the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2009 when he defeated fellow American Ben Shelton in the quarterfinals.

The 25-year-old is now guaranteed to break into the world’s top 20 for the first time, having knocked out top 30 players Alejandro Davidovic Fokina and Roberto Bautista Agut in the last four.

Djokovic and Paul chat at the net during their Australian Open semi-final.

For Tsitsipas, this is a chance for revenge against Djokovic.

The pair met in the 2021 French Open final – Tsitsipas’ first career Grand Slam final – with Djokovic coming from two sets down to defeat the Greek.

But now, just over 18 months later, the 24-year-old has a chance to avenge that heartbreaking defeat and after a semi-final win against Khachanov, he said he was playing the best tennis of his career.

“I don’t see any negativity or negativity in what I’m trying to do,” Tsitsipas said. “Even if it doesn’t work out, I’m very optimistic and positive about any outcome, any opponent I face.

“That’s something that was lacking in my game. I truly believe in what I am capable of producing. That is more than enough. I go [it] By the way… I strive for it every single day. It might not go the way I want it to, but I put 110 percent in there.

Tsitsipas hit a backhand against Khachanov during the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

Although his march to the final was briefly halted when Khachanov held off two match points in the third set, Tsitsipas managed to defeat the Russian in three hours and 21 minutes.

And with a spot at the top of the world rankings on the line, Tsitsipas said he was living a “childhood dream”.

“I love that number … it’s a Grand Slam final, I’m fighting for the No. 1 spot, it’s a childhood dream to occupy that No. 1 spot one day,” he said.

“I’m close. I’m glad the opportunity came here in Australia and not somewhere else, because it’s an important place.

Djokovic holds the record for most time spent as world No. 1 with 373 weeks. Seeded fourth at the Australian Open and currently ranked No. 5 in the world, the Serb played a limited schedule in 2022 due to his decision not to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

He was deported from Australia prior to the start of the 2022 Australian Open, and was unable to travel to compete in certain areas of the tournament – ​​including the United States – due to his vaccination status, thus losing many of his rankings. Can’t miss the points. rescue

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