Novak Djokovic said he “sent a message” after beating Andrey Rublev at the Australian Open on Wednesday to move closer to the semi-finals and a 22nd Grand Slam title. The Serb was in the zone to beat the Russian fifth seed 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 at Rod Laver Arena and set up a meeting with Tommy Paul for a place in Sunday’s final. In the quarter finals, this American defeated the country’s Ben Shelton 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. Djokovic’s quest for a record-extending 10th Australian Open title has not had a smooth start, plagued by a hamstring strain en route to the title in Adelaide this month.
The 35-year-old struggled physically in the early rounds but was dominant when he destroyed Alex de Minaur in the fourth round and was ruthless once more against Rublev.
“The last two matches, playing against two in-form guys and dominating them in three sets is something that I definitely want at the moment, something that sends a message to all my opponents,” he said. “The confidence level increases with this type of game, so as the tournament progresses I feel better on the court. I have been in this situation many times in my life and career,” he added after reaching his 10th semifinal. Melbourne Park. Only Roger Federer (15) and Jack Crawford (11) have been there more times.
“I’ve never lost in the semi-finals at the Australian Open, hopefully it stays the same.”
After the match, Djokovic wished his mother Dijana Djokovic on her birthday, which was on Tuesday, in a cute gesture.
WATCH: Djokovic wishes mum ‘Happy Birthday’ with song on court
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2023
Victory for the red-hot favorite saw him reach a 44th Grand Slam semi-final, closing the gap on Federer’s all-time record of 46. In another astonishing record, he equaled Andre Agassi by winning his 26th consecutive match at the Australian Open. Open-era record for longest streak at first Grand Slam of the year. There were ominous signs for Rublev even before the match began.
In contrast to Djokovic’s outstanding record in Melbourne, Rublev — who was taken to Holger Rooney in the fourth round in five sets — came into the Grand Slam quarterfinal clash with an 0-6 record. After a shaky start when he served a double fault to start the opening proceedings, Djokovic quickly settled into a rhythm.
Russian Rublev, who also sent a double fault to start, struggled early on. His serving ruse continued and he double-faulted again in response when the Serb served a break point at 2-1. Djokovic showed no signs of a hamstring problem as he raced to a 4-1 lead. He then converted the fifth break point for a 5-1 run and won the set in 39 minutes.
Rubelov had no answer to her precision and power. Djokovic continued in the same vein in the second set, blowing his chance in four games after a 16-shot rally when Rublev blinked first with a backhand error.
Another break left Rublev frustrated and furious as he went two sets down. He took a bathroom break between sets, but it didn’t work as Djokovic came up with more venomous shots and broke his serve in the opening game and never let up.
Djokovic will meet Paul for the first time and the American is excited at the prospect of facing the Serbian great in his first Grand Slam semi-final.
The 35th-ranked Paul will be the heavy underdog, but he has struck a positive note. The 25-year-old American said, “I’m really excited, man. I’ve got a better chance to win if it’s Rublev, but playing Novak in Australia would be great.”
“Obviously in Australia she feels quite comfortable. It’s going to be a challenging match. But I’m playing some of my best tennis.”
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