Melbourne | Djokovic to face Sinner for final spot.

The first semi-final features Novak Djokovic versus Jannik Sinner which could prove a cracker bearing in mind that the young Italian has beaten the Serbian world No.1 twice at the end of last season ,and the Djokovic game is not as solid as he would like, despite his on-court confidence.

Taylor came out with a clear game-plan. He came out with the right sharpness, pressing me from the baseline, playing very aggressively. He was making me run, I was on the back foot quite a lot Novak Djokovic

In his current run at the Australian Open, as he chases an 11th title in Melbourne, he has dropped sets whilst his next opponent has yet to drop one!

However his game is still strong enough, especially when in defensive mode, good enough for his to achieve his ambition of extending his tally of 24 grand slam title, as he showed in his performance against Taylor Fritz in their quarter final clash.

For the best part of two-and-half hours, Djokovic was very much on the back foot as Fritz kept up the pressure in the hope of securing his first win against the Serbian in what was their 9th meeting.

In that time, he won the opening set on a tie-break and lost the second having seen a number of opportunities go by the wayside.

The scene was set in the opening game in which Djokovic threw everything at his American adversary who fended off three break points and nine deuces in a 16-minute game to hold and then saved another three break points in his service game and then a further two as he reached two set points.

Djokovic slammed the door in Fritz’s face and held on to force a tiebreak where he pulled out a 4-0 lead and on reaching set point at 6-1, strutted his usual stuff to raise crowd support! Three points later, Djokovic had banked the first set.

The crowd certainly responded so it was surprising to see Djokovic lose his way in the second set. Two double faults, and an animated shouting match with his box, contributed to Fritz claiming the first break of the match.

Djokovic regained his composure and defended his corner well nut so did Fritz who, despite all the pressure, held off seven break points to level the match.

Despite all his chances Djokovic had been unable to crack the Fritz serve which he finally did at the star of the third after 15 previous attempts as Fritz started to show signs of fatigue.

It wasn’t long before the top seed and title favourite had taken control and despite all Fritz’s efforts, held him off to claim his 11th semi-final slot at the AO after three-hours and 45-minutes of play. It is also his 28th at Grand Slam level!


Taylor Fritz swings into his serve

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

With that, Fritz’s resistance was over as Djokovic comfortably served his way into a 48th Grand Slam semi-final.

“It was extremely hot conditions, the hottest of this year,” Djokovic commented after his win.

“Taylor came out with a clear game-plan. He came out with the right sharpness, pressing me from the baseline, playing very aggressively. He was making me run, I was on the back foot quite a lot.

“When he serves as well as he does, it’s difficult. He puts a lot of pressure on your service game. The first couple of sets were a struggle. A real, real struggle – physically, mentally, emotionally.

“In the third set, I started very well. The sun came down, which cooled the temperature, and it was more pleasant to play, and I felt much better in the third and fourth.”

Djokovic continued: “I took his legs, that’s for sure. He did take my legs as well. It was a lot of running. He played great.

“And my conversion on break points was really poor – four for 21 – but also due to his high level.

“On the second serves, I was hitting the ball, but he came up with some great backhand winners. You have to say congrats and move on. I held my composure. I served very well, which made my life a bit easier.”

Now the big question is whether Sinner can strike a blow for the younger generation and stop him rolling into the final.

The Italian, seeded four for the championships, made, in comparison, lightwork of the Russian, dispatching Andrey Rublev 6-4 7-6(5) 6-3 after two-hours and 39-minutes of play.

In what was a brilliant performance despite suffering from stomach pain, he reached the second grand slam semi-final of his career while Rublev clocked up his 10th consecutive quarter final loss at grand slam level.


Jannik Sinner dealt with Andrey Rublev and stomach pains to reach last four

(Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)

“I appreciate it when it’s over, but it’s obviously very tough to play against him,” Sinner said of Rublev after the match. “We had some really tough matches already in the past.

“Today was three sets, because I could have lost both the first set – he had so many break points and I served really well somehow. Everything goes so fast, and it’s more react[ive] trying to move him more than I do.”

Rublev, the fifth seed, conceded an early double fault in the match and then at 2-2, he faced three break points before he was broken by Sinner.

The Italian gained a two-break cushion thanks to a stream of Russia errors helped him gain the first set.

Sinners stomach problems became evident in the second set as he clutched it frequently between points as the momentum swung Rublev’s way.

With Sinner holding on, the pair locked horns and with Rublev failing to take advantage of several break opportunities, he became increasingly frustrated.

He looked on course to level the match but lost six straight points as Sinner stunningly turned the tiebreak on its head, before taking the breaker 7-5.

Despite being a set away from elimination, Rublev continued to threaten and after Sinner rattled through a game to 15 to kickstart the third set, Rublev followed suit to stay in touch.

Aces eight and nine of the match from Rublev bookended another couple of holds as they entered the latter stages of the set at 2-2.

Sinner edged ahead with another dominant game to 15 and then sealed a huge break for 4-2 at which point the match started to slip away from Rublev but he continued to battle as the clock ticked past 1am Wednesday morning.


Andrey Rublev is frustrated at the QF stage for a 10th time.

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)


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