Novak Djokovic defeated Andrey Rublev in straight sets to get to the Australian Open semifinals.

Novak Djokovic defeated Andrey Rublev in straight sets to get to the Australian Open semifinals.

At the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic kept up his impressive form by defeating world No. 6 Andrey Rublev in straight sets to get to the semifinals.

The 35-year-old maintained his seemingly unstoppable march towards a record-equaling 22nd grand slam with yet another nearly flawless tennis performance, winning 6-1 6-2 6-4 in only two hours and three minutes.

In his last two victories, Djokovic has dropped just 12 games, extending his victory streak at the Australian Open to 26, tying Andre Agassi’s record. He is currently playing probably the best tennis of his career.

Early indications were not good for Rublev, who appeared to still be recovering after his epic five-set match with Holger Rune. The Russian was broken in just his third service game.

He never seemed to bounce back from the loss as Djokovic dominated the game and moved one step closer to claiming a record-breaking 10th Australian Open championship.

In his on-court interview, Djokovic said, “I would place this triumph as No. 2 [this year], but very near to the performance of two nights ago.” I’ve never been more satisfied with my tennis. I’ve been playing quite well from the back of the court, and I enjoy playing in these circumstances. As I’ve already stated, this court holds a particular place in my heart.

“There were numerous close games we had, so the score in the first two sets doesn’t reflect the actual outcome of the match. I have a lot of respect for Andrey since he is a fantastic player and opponent. I was aware of the strategy, but planning your play in your head is one thing; playing it out on the court is quite another. My best tennis came out when it mattered most.

“I’ve used just about every biofeedback device there is to prepare my leg, and they all worked, so I’m going to keep using them. On my days off, I miss playing tennis, but in these situations, when it’s more crucial to prepare for the next challenge, it’s necessary to be clever and cautious with the body.

Can anyone stop Novak Djokovic from winning his tenth Australian Open championship?
Can anyone stop Novak Djokovic from winning his tenth Australian Open championship?
To advance to Sunday’s Australian Open final, Djokovic must first defeat American Tommy Paul, who is competing in his maiden grand slam semifinal.

He’s in a grand slam semifinal for the first time, so obviously he has little to lose, according to Djokovic. “He’s been playing some amazing tennis in the previous 12 to 15 months, so I’ve got to be mentally prepared and not approach it any differently than the last few matches,” said the player.

“I believe I have a fair chance of winning if I play this manner.”

Is “Nole” invincible?
After Rublev’s previous victory over Rune, several analysts had commented that the Russian had already mentally accepted Djokovic’s victory.

Rublev made light of the possibility of making it to his first grand slam semifinal by joking that it would have been wonderful if he had faced someone other than the Serb in the quarterfinal.

Even though the remark was made in fun, the fact that it came after a taxing five-set encounter perhaps made it clear that most players truly dread playing Djokovic.

Rublev had already begun to cut a frustrated figure in the early going as Djokovic’s early brilliance forced him to fight tooth and nail to try to win each point.

In just his second service game, Rublev’s resistance was broken, and by the time Djokovic broke again shortly after, he already appeared to be outmatched. Djokovic went on to easily win the opening set 6-1.

Even though Rublev managed to hold serve twice in the second set before being broken, there didn’t seem to be much he could do to stave off Djokovic’s attack. Rublev’s breakdown always seemed to be a matter of when, not if.

Andrey Rublev was powerless to thwart Novak Djokovic.
Andrey Rublev was powerless to thwart Novak Djokovic.
Although he had been winning easily up to this point, Djokovic had gotten increasingly irritated on the court and had shouted towards his box a few times during the second set.

It was unclear exactly what irritated him, but during rallies, the wind had frequently swirled through the Rod Laver Arena, causing both players to make mistakes.

Or perhaps they had grown so accustomed to Djokovic’s near-perfection throughout this tournament that even one errant shot came as a shock.

After the game, Djokovic commented about the wind, saying that one must modify and adapt to the circumstances. “It started at the start of the game, but it wasn’t as windy around six o’clock when I was warming up.

“Players notice a tremendous difference when there is a strong wind at their back, while spectators and viewers don’t see much of a difference when there is a strong wind at their back.”

Djokovic faced significant pressure on his service twice in the second set, at 3-2 and 5-2, but he held firm on both occasions to establish a decisive two-set lead. The second set proved to be a much tougher test for him.

Rublev’s situation quickly got worse when he was broken once more in the opening game of the third set. If the game hadn’t already felt over, it certainly did at this point.

Rublev deserves respect for continuing to battle for every point and extending the third set past the length of the first two, but it fell short of preventing Djokovic from reaching his 10th Australian Open semifinal.

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