the serbian Novak Djokovic struck down the Russian Andrey Rublev for a severe 6-1, 6-2 and 6-4, in two hours and three minutes, in the quarterfinals of the Australian Opena round in which He showed no cracks in either his game or his physical condition, apparently with no discomfort in his left thigh.
His rival in the semifinals will be the American Tommy Paul, an unprecedented duel between the two players.
The champion of 21 ‘major’ titles reaches the semifinals on the banks of the Yarra for the tenth time and is third in this chapter, in a list led by the Swiss Roger Federer, with 15 participations in the round prior to the final.
The Serbian, fourth in the ATP and possible number one if he wins the tournament, completed a brilliant performance in the quarterfinals against a thick Rublev, who was not able to change his strategy to prevent the Balkan from showing off again in his beloved Rod Laver Sand.
The first bars of the clash set the script for the rest of the match, after the fourth seed of the tournament broke his rival’s serve (5th) in his second game at return. Rublev went from 40-15 to break point, which this time Djokovic converted.
In 24 minutes of the match, the Serbian already had a 4-1 score. In another 16 he made a new break and consolidated for 6-1. In every game Rublev served, he had a chance to break. Djokovick, imperial throughout the first set, only gave up two ‘break’ balls, in the seventh game.
Despite the apparent ease he had to overcome the Muscovite, Djokovic blurted out a series of complaints to his Croatian coach Goran Ivanisevic, which surprised a crowd draped with Serbian flags and who couldn’t believe the anger of the Balkan maestro after scoring the first set. .
The Russian, who also became unhinged under the impassive gaze of his coach, the Spanish Fernando Vicente, had the chance to get more involved in the rallies during a second set that got unbalanced with a break that meant 4-2 for the man from Belgrade.
Rublev found no way to deal with his opponent until late in the second set, when he saved four set points and traded them for a break point. But Djokovic did not flinch and with his service and his shots to the corners he avoided danger and took an advantage that seemed definitive.
The Russian put his hands on his head with a gesture of dejection due to the infinite superiority of Djokovic, who allowed himself the license to loosen up at certain moments so as not to compromise a physique that was about to say enough during their second and third round clashes .
In the same way that it happened in the initial set, the third sleeve began with a blow from the Balkan in the form of a ‘break’ that recalled his status as the best receiver on the circuit.
A ball that crashed against the tape and went sideways gave Djokovic 4-2. The player crossed himself and raised his index finger to the sky: he felt that, in addition, he had luck on his side. Rublev could only snort and shake his head, at his impotence.
Rublev’s exhaustion and lack of ideas contrasted with the freshness of a Djokovic ten years older, who applied his tennis intelligence to close a new match in just over two hours.
With 5-4 in favor, two direct kicks from Djokovic and a return from Rublev into the net gave the Serbian three match points. The first one was enough after the last mistake of the Russian.
The nine-time Australian Open champion closed the match with 13 aces, 30 winners and saved all five breaking balls he offered.
“This is my second best match after the one I played with Alex De Minaur,” Djokovic said after his win. “You have to make adjustments and adapt to this wind,” he commented on the conditions in which the match was played.
“I miss playing tennis on the days off between matches, but it’s important to make sure the leg is ready for competition,” he added.
“Let’s give Roger a loud round of applause. I would like to challenge you to a skiing career”, he said when remembering his first Grand Slam semifinal against the Swiss Roger Federer.
The Balkan took advantage of his interview on the court with American tennis player Jim Courier to congratulate his mother on her birthday, which led the entire audience to sing to her for her anniversary.
Djokovic adds his 44th participation in a Grand Slam semifinals and remains two behind himself Federer, who is 46.
He equaled the American with 26 consecutive victories André Agassi as the Open Era player with the most consecutive match wins at the Australian Open.
He started this streak with his victory over American Mitchell Krueger in the first round of the 2019 edition.
His next rival will be the American Tommy Paulwhich woke his 20-year-old compatriot Ben Shelton from sleep.
“I would love to take on the challenge of facing Djokovic on this stage. I know it would be easier if he played against Rublev”, commented the American during the press conference after his quarterfinal match.
The clash between two tennis players who have never met augurs a duel with long exchanges, a consequence of the consistency that both have shown in their last clashes to get a ticket to the semifinals of the Australian Open.
“He doesn’t have much to lose. He has been playing very well in the last year. I have to be mentally ready. If I play like this I will have many chances to go through”, said the Serbian about his next game against Paul.
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