Novak Djokovic reaches Australian Open semifinals with crushing straight-sets win over Andrey Rublev | CNN


Novak Djokovic continued his brilliant form at the Australian Open, beating world No. 6 Andrey Rublev in straight sets to reach the semifinals.

It was another near-perfect display of tennis from the 35-year-old, as he continued his seemingly inevitable march to a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory in just two hours and three. minutes.

Djokovic is now playing arguably the best tennis of his career and has lost just 12 games in his last two matches, extending his Australian Open winning streak to 26, tying Andre Agassi’s record.

The early signs were ominous for Rublev, who seemed to be feeling the effects of his epic five-set win against Holger Rune, with the Russian broken in just his third service game.

It was a setback from which he never seemed to recover, as Djokovic got away with the match and moved one step closer to winning a tenth Australian Open title.

“I would rank this win No. 2 [this year], but very close to the performance of two nights ago,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “I couldn’t be happier with my tennis. I’ve been playing very solid from the back of the court, I love playing in these conditions… this court, I’ve said it before, is the most special court for me.

“The score in the first two sets does not speak of the reality of the match, there were some close games that we had. Andrey is a great opponent and a great player, I have great respect for him. I knew what the game plan was, but it’s one thing to imagine how you want to play and another thing to execute on the court. In the most important moments I found my best tennis.

“I have tried any biofeedback machine on this planet to prepare my leg, it worked and I am going to keep going. I miss tennis on my days off, but it’s important to be smart and body wise in these particular circumstances where it’s more important to prepare for the next challenge.”

Djokovic will now face American Tommy Paul, playing in his first Grand Slam semifinal, for a place in Sunday’s Australian Open final.

“Obviously, he doesn’t have much to lose, for the first time in a Grand Slam semifinal,” Djokovic said. “He’s been playing some great tennis in the last 12-15 months… so I have to be mentally prepared, not approach it any differently than the last two matches.

“If I play this way, I think I have a good chance to go through.”

Several commentators had commented after Rublev’s earlier victory over Rune that the Russian had already mentally conceded defeat to Djokovic.

When asked about the possibility of reaching the first Grand Slam semi-final of his career, Rublev joked that it would have been nice if the quarter-final went against any player other than the Serb.

It was a joking comment, but after a grueling five-setter, it probably revealed a genuine fear that most players feel when they know a match against Djokovic is coming up.

In fact, in the opening stages, Rublev had already started to grow exasperated when Djokovic’s early brilliance forced him to fight with everything to try and win every point.

Rublev’s resistance was broken in just his second service game and he already looked like a beaten man, with Djokovic breaking again soon after and breaking away to take the first set 6-1.

The second set was a slight improvement, if nothing else, as Rublev held serve twice before his serve was broken, but there seemed little he could do to stop Djokovic’s attack. It always felt like it was just a matter of when, not if Rublev would break.

Andrey Rublev couldn't do anything to stop Novak Djokovic.

Despite winning comfortably so far, Djokovic had been visibly frustrated on court and yelled into his box on a couple of occasions during the second set.

It was not clear exactly why he was upset, but the wind had buffeted Rod Laver Arena several times during rallies, forcing both men to make mistakes.

Or, perhaps, so used to the near perfection that Djokovic has been throughout this tournament, that just one missed shot was a shock to the system.

“You have to make adjustments and adapt to the conditions,” Djokovic said of the post-match wind. “There wasn’t that much of a breeze around six when I was warming up and it started early in the game.

“When you have a strong wind at your back, people in the stands or on TV don’t see much of a difference, but for the players, it makes a big difference.”

The second set proved to be a much tougher test for Djokovic, as he twice faced heavy pressure on serve, at 3-2 and 5-2, but held his ground both times to take a commanding two-set lead.

Things soon went from bad to worse for Rublev, as this time he lost serve in the first game of the third set. If the match didn’t feel over before, he certainly did now.

To Rublev’s credit, he continued to fight for every point and took the longest third set of the previous two, but it wasn’t close to enough to deny Djokovic a place in his 10th Australian Open semifinal.

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