Reigning Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic entered the tournament’s final by defeating Aslan Karatsev in the semifinal on Thursday. The Serbian easily beat his Russian opponent by a 6-3 6-4 6-2 scoreline. Djokovic, the world number one, will play against either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Daniil Medvedev in the final on Sunday. It will be his ninth time in the final.
Djokovic can boast of an unblemished Australian Open final record. Every time he has made the championship showdown, he has gone on to win the title. Another win on Sunday would not only give him a record-extending ninth title; it would also be his third in a row.
Karatsev, a qualifier ranked 114th in the world rankings, had been on a remarkable underdog run to the semifinals. However, Djokovic handed Karatsev a reality check by beating him in straight sets.
Despite his slow start which saw him fall behind by a set and 5-1 in the second, Karatsev began to rally and closed the gap to 5-4, saving two set points along the way. However, that was as close as he would get; Djokovic finished off the set, then pulled away from 2-2 in the third, winning four consecutive games to close out the match.
In a post-match interview, Djokovic said, “This is the best I felt during the entire tournament. Felt great, I could swing through the ball, no pain, just (the) best match so far, and it came at the right time and I’m thrilled to feel this way.”
“Recovery is priority right now. I’m feeling the ball well, I’m playing well, I had enough match play, enough practice, so right now it’s just gathering all the necessary energy for the most important match of the Australian Open,” he added.
Heading into the match, Karatsev was clearly overmatched on paper. He was playing in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his career. Djokovic, on the other hand, was in his 39th career Grand Slam semifinal and will next play in his 28th final. Thus, the one-sided nature of the match did not surprise many.
Nevertheless, Djokovic was impressed with his opponent’s performances throughout the tournament.
“We need to give him a hand. Huge congratulations to him,” he said. “On his debut he reached (the) semifinals. I don’t think it’s ever happened in the history of tennis, so well done to him. He played a great tournament.”
Regardless of the result in the final, Djokovic will break the record for the longest duration spent as world number one on Mar 8. On that date, he will have done so for 311 weeks and surpass Roger Federer’s record. Federer had held the record since 2012.
19th February 2021 15:28
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