As expected, Novak Djokovic, following a straight sets victory over Tommy Paul, has reached the final of the Australian Open where Stefanos Tsitsipas awaits and where he hopes to lift the men’s trophy for a record breaking 10th time for the 22nd grand slam of his career and regain the world No. 1 spot.
My level is great, it’s perfect. It’s 110 percent. Stefanos, see you in two days! Novak Djokovic
The 35-yer-old Serb beat the American 7-5 6-1 6-2 and is favourite to achieve his goal having won on all nine previous occasions he has reached the title round.
In view of the furore which his father had provoked when he posed with Russian supporters of Putin following his quarter final win, Srdjan Dkokovic decided to support his son away from Melbourne Park saying he had “no intention of being caught up in this”, and that he would not attend the semi-final match to avoid “disruption”.
Following his semi-final win, Djokovic Junior addressed the situation declaring no one in his family, including his father, supported Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine and believed the whole thing had been misunderstood.
“I saw, as everybody else saw, what happened yesterday,” he said on Eurosport. “It was unfortunate that the misinterpretation of what happened yesterday has escalated to such a high level. There was, I would say, a lot of conversations with tournament director, with media and everyone else.
“It has got to me, of course, as well. I was not aware of it until last night. Then, of course, I was not pleased to see that.
“My father, my whole family, and myself, have been through several wars during the ’90s. As my father put in a statement, we are against the war, we never will support any violence or any war.
“We know how devastating that is for the family, for people in any country that is going through the war. That’s the first thing I want to say.
“The second thing I want to say, my father, as he said in the statement, has been going after every single match to meet with my fans at the main square here in Australian Open, to thank them for the support, to be with them, pay them respect, and make photos.
“The photo that he made, he was passing through. I heard what he said in the video. He said, ‘cheers’.
“Unfortunately some of the media has interpreted that in a really wrong way. I’m sorry that that has escalated so much.
“But I hope people understand that there was absolutely no intention whatsoever to support any kind of war initiatives or anything like that.”
Djokovic added that his father believed he was standing next to a Serbian flag.
“My father, as I said, was passing through. There was a lot of Serbian flags around. That’s what he thought. He thought he was making photo with somebody from Serbia. That’s it. He moved on.
“Of course, it’s not pleasant for me to go through this with all the things that I had to deal with last year and this year in Australia. It’s not something that I want or need. I hope that people will let it be, and we can focus on tennis.”
Whether Djokovic Senior will be attending the final in the players’ box, has yet to be decided.
“Let’s see. Of course, it wasn’t pleasant not to have him in the box. It’s a decision that we made together. Just didn’t know how things will play out, I guess. Yeah, I hope to have him.
“I hope he’s going to be feeling okay to be in the courts because I would like to have him there for the final.”
The incident though, must have been more than an off-court distraction for, despite quickly establishing a 5-1 lead, Djokovic was reined in by Paul as the Serbian lost his focus following a’ discussion’ with the umpire over towels!
However the American then played a poor service game at 5-5 and was immediately overrun by the experienced Serb who, having pocketed the first set, swept through the next two for the loss of just three games to complete aftertwo-hours and 20-minutes, his 27th consecutive win at Melbourne Park.
His meeting with Tsitsipas will be his 33rd final at grand slam level where he hopes to equal Rafa Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles 15 years after collecting his first.
“I have strong memories of 15 years ago, but I wouldn’t have imagined things to have turned out like they have. I’m so blessed and grateful, marvelling and cherishing every moment,” Djokovic said after the match.
He added: “My level is great, it’s perfect. It’s 110 percent. Stefanos, see you in two days!
“Of course, you’re not as fresh as in the beginning, but we put in a lot of hours throughout the off-season into fitness to be in a good enough condition to play best of five.
“I know what’s expected of me. Experience helps, but on court, moment to moment, it’s a great battle with yourself and your opponent. You can feel the long rallies; we both had heavy legs. I held my nerves at the end of the first set; that was a key moment where I started swinging through the ball more.
“Stefanos has improved a lot and he’s one of the most interesting guys on the tour, especially with his hairstyle.”
It will be an interesting final with so much at stake for both players.