Djokovic, who has won 81 of his 89 matches in his career at the Australian Open, will play his ninth final at Melbourne Park.
|Location: Melbourne Park Dates: February 8-21|
|Cover: Listen to the men’s semi-final on Friday on Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online, as well as the women’s final on Saturday and the men’s final on Sunday on Radio 5 Live, starting at 08:30 GMT.|
Top seed Novak Djokovic overcame resistance from Aslan Karatsev to reach the final of the Australian Open and make a remarkable comeback for the Russian qualifiers.
Although the No114 of the world had his moments of tension, Djokovic had enough quality to win 6-3 6-4 6-2.
The 33-year-old Serb has won his last four matches to finally get rid of Karacev.
Djokovic, who will take on Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas in Melbourne on Sunday for his ninth men’s title, a record.
Fourth-seeded Russian Medvedev will take on fifth-seeded Greek Tsitsipas in another semi-final on Friday in an attempt to reach their first final at the Australian Open.
Neither player has won a major title so far. Djokovic is making his 18th appearance in the tournament. Now entering his second Grand Slam, he faces an opponent who can close the gap with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic struggled with a lower-body injury during the tournament, but showed no signs of trouble with Karacev.
I haven’t felt this good in the whole tournament. It was great, I could hit the ball and I didn’t have any pain, he said.
It was my best game so far and it came at the right time. I’m excited.
We have to help Karatsev. Congratulations on reaching the semi-finals on his debut. He played a great tournament, Djokovic said.
A tense Djokovic digs deep to fend off Karacev
No one has done the Australian Open in men’s singles like Djokovic, who says the tournament makes him feel at home after he won his first title in 2008.
Djokovic has lost just three matches at Melbourne Park in the past decade, and a defeat against Karatsev would be a seismic blow that would be among the biggest shocks in the sport.
While Djokovic is playing his 39th match. In the Grand Slam semi-finals, Karatsev had never played in any of the four major tennis tournaments prior to this two-week match.
However, there is one element of history that gave the Russians hope. Djokovic has lost to a lower-ranked opponent like Karatsev at the Rod Laver Arena before, when he lost in the second round to world number 117 Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in 2017.
Karatsev did put Djokovic under pressure and bombarded him with occasional powerful shots, but the replay never seemed serious.
The first seven games they remained on serve, but after an eighth free game from the Russian, Djokovic could strike at 5-3 and win the first set.
Nearly 8,000 fans were admitted to the Rod Laver Arena to see Djokovic maintain his 100% record in the semi-finals in Melbourne.
Fears that Karatsev would let the match run out quickly seemed justified, as Djokovic led 5-1 in the second set. But Karatsev did well, as he did the entire tournament.
After giving up one of the breaks, Karatsev got two set points back when Djokovic served again – and, to the delight of the Melbourne crowd who conceded a comeback, threatened to escape again.
Djokovic looked pensive as he had to dig deep and let out an explosion of emotion when he finally crossed the line to take a double lead.
The third set did not turn into the parade Djokovic had hoped for either.
Karatsev had an early service break before Djokovic, still looking tense, regained control as the Russian tired.
Djokovic sealed victory with an ace down the middle and clenched his teeth and fist as the cheers of steel betrayed his relief.
Dogshowends with two beautiful weeks for Karatsev
Karatsev defeated top favourites Diego Schwartzman, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Grigor Dimitrov on his way to the semi-finals.
Karatsev’s march to the semi-finals in Melbourne is one of the most remarkable stories in men’s tennis in recent years.
Few people outside the tennis world have heard of the 27-year-old, who successfully reached the second division of the ATP Challenger Series before becoming the first man in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals of his first Grand Slam tournament.
Even Djokovic admitted he had not seen Karatsev play for two weeks before Thursday’s semifinal. He quickly became familiar with the explosive power of the Russians.
Despite taking the biggest step of his career, Karatsev had few nerves, but he also showed his mental toughness by refusing to knit and tying Djokovic in the final two sets.
The Russian looked exhausted as he stumbled into the courtroom and received a standing ovation, as did Djokovic to celebrate the greatness of his achievement.
With £475,000 in prize money, Karatsev has more than doubled his career earnings and will be in the top 50 in the world when the rankings are published on Monday.
He said the experience of the past two weeks, in which he had to win three qualifying matches to reach the draw, will give him the confidence to play regularly against the best in the world.
When asked what he learned, Karatsev replied that I can play with anyone. Being there and competing with everyone.
These two weeks have been great for me and playing against Novak helps me to gain experience, to get familiar with the game, with the way he plays.
I’m going to have faith and keep playing, keep practicing.
frequently asked questions
Has Djokovic ever lost in a final of the Australian Open?
Djokovic has never lost a Grand Slam final at the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, and he has never lost a final at the Rod Laver Arena. The Serb has an 8-0 record in the final of the Australian Open and only two of those matches were played in five sets.
Who has beaten Novak Djokovic the most?
Djokovic-Nadal rivalry – Wikipedia
Who beat Novak Djokovic in the singles final at the 2020 Australian Open?
Novak Djokovic was the defending champion and successfully defended his title by defeating Dominic Thiem in the final 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.