Melbourne, Jan. 26 (BNA): With title contenders falling by the wayside at Melbourne Park, Novak Djokovic’s run to 22nd Grand Slam title carries an air of inevitability, as American semi-finalist Tommy Paul comes for the first time in the Serbian league. Ripper. intersection on Friday.
Reuters reports that fourth seed Djokovic, who is seeking a record-breaking 10th Australian Open title, was in a dominant position upon his return to the country, a year after he was deported on the eve of last year’s tournament for not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
The biggest threat to his campaign to date was a hamstring injury, which he suffered on his way to winning the warm-up title in Adelaide.
Djokovic was at his devastating best in wins over Alex de Minaur in the fourth round and Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals, and he said those remaining in the men’s draw should pay attention.
“Playing against really good players, players of form, to beat them dominantly in three sets is something I want at this moment, something that sends a message to all my opponents remaining in the draw,” Djokovic said.
Having equaled Andre Agassi’s 26-match Australian Open winning streak to reach his 44th Grand Slam semi-final and sit twice behind 20-time major champion Roger Federer on the all-time list, the 35-year-old Djokovic says he’s still getting better. .
“I feel good on court, better and better as the tournament progresses,” said Djokovic. “I’ve been in this situation so many times in my life, in my career, I’ve never lost in an Australian Open semi-final. I hope it stays that way.”
Hoping to turn the scenario around, Paul, who has edged out fellow unseeded American Ben Shelton to become only the third active American to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam alongside John Isner and Frances Tiafoe.
Paul’s progress is testament to the steady rise in US men’s tennis, as he is set to be top 10 in the ATP rankings on Monday after a stellar run at Melbourne Park, where the likes of Rafa Nadal, Daniil Medvedev and Casper Ruud were knocked out early. .
But the 25-year-old is hopeful of going further.
“It’s important to me. We all want it pretty bad for ourselves, but we also want it for US tennis,” said Paul, the first American man to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2009.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is making his fourth semi-final appearance at the Australian Open when he faces a reinvigorated Karen Khachanov of Russia.
The third-seeded Greek is a crowd favorite at Melbourne Park and has been ruthlessly effective so far, winning four of his five matches in straight sets – including a comfortable win over an unheralded Czech Jiri Liska in the quarter-finals.
“It’s great to be back in the semi-finals,” said Tsitsipas.
“Of course, I’m definitely happy with the way I’ve been playing. I’m looking forward to more, to the better. I’m looking forward to creating some magical experiences here in Australia.”
Khachanov will be a little fresher of the two after reaching the semi-finals when American Sebastian Korda withdrew from the quarter-finals with a wrist injury.
“It’s different this time because physically too, after pre-season, I feel really good so far,” said US Open semi-finalist Khachanov.
“I haven’t played long matches, so it’s different, three matches can also be semi-finals. But going into them I’ll be in better physical shape.”