Novak Djokovic forgoes distractions to book 10th Australian Open final

Alcaraz did not start this year’s tournament after suffering a leg injury in training while recovering from an abdominal setback.

“I won this match [against Tsitsipas at the 2021 French Open]so my memories are very positive,” Djokovic said.

Novak Djokovic and Tommy Paul after the match.

Novak Djokovic and Tommy Paul after the match.Credit:Getty Images

“I had two sets before love and I think it was the first time I came back two sets before love in a Grand Slam final … it was a really physical, mental and emotional struggle. It’s always with Stefanos.

“I respect him very much. He’s improved over the years. I actually think he’s one of the most interesting guys on tour with his interests off the pitch and his haircut and all. But on Sunday it’s all business for both of us. Let the better player win.

“Winning grand slams and being number 1 in the world are probably the two greatest peaks you can climb as a professional tennis player. Lets see what happens.”

Djokovic had every reason to be distracted following events since beating Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals two nights earlier.

Not for the first time – not even for the first time in this fortnight – Team Djokovic came under fire, the focus firmly on his father knowingly or not posing with supporters of Vladimir Putin after the Rublev win.

Srdjan opted to stay away from his son’s semi-final to limit excitement after a 24-hour firestorm, leaving an empty seat alongside his wife Dijana in Djokovic’s player box.

Djokovic brushed that controversy aside, surviving a seven-minute opening game and then rocketing to a 5-1 double-break lead over a Starstruck Paul, who was making his first Grand Slam semifinal.

But his lively debate with the chair umpire over a time clock issue – having just had a set point – briefly threw him off course as the American clawed back both breaks and leveled the set to five-all.

Having conceded just 12 games in his last two wins, any challenge or weakness was a surprise. Whatever happened, it didn’t last long.

The 35-year-old went into lockdown mode, with Paul struggling on serve, then handed over the opener with a forehand that landed just wide.


It was the story of Paul’s night. Going five for five in the first set, he faced at least one break point in five of his next six service games and didn’t earn a break point outside of a crucial third game in the second set.

The world No. 35, who will move into the world top 20 on Monday thanks to his best career run, threatened to break back with some great baseline shots in that game, leaving Djokovic on his hips after such a point.

But Djokovic, always the street fighter, dug in again and shot an ace wide to see the third of Paul’s chances before saving shortly after. He never looked back or even sniffed at Paul.

After 24 unforced errors in a rollercoaster opening set, Djokovic committed just six in set number two, interrupting Paul twice more to start the third set and defeat his opponent.

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Ryan Sederquist

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