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‘It means everything’: Djokovic set to face Tsitsipas for title and top spot
He is simply inexorable. Novak Djokovic is into a tenth Australian Open final – seeking his tenth title there
In the end, it may have been a bit less “awesome” than Tommy Paul was expecting. Novak Djokovic cantered to a 10th Australian Open final, and extended his winning streak at Melbourne Park to 27 matches.
There were attritional spells throughout, and the American made the first set closer than it ever really looked likely to be, but ultimately the experience of the 21-time Grand Slam champion told. He has won the title every time he has reached the semi-final of the Australian Open.
For someone who has spent much of the tournament riled by the behaviour of fans, Djokovic was careful to take time to thank his supporters afterwards; clearly their motivation helped him through.
“It means everything especially at this stage of my career,” he told post-match interviewer Jim Courier. “I need that energy and I’m really thankful that I still have enough gas in my legs to be able to play at this level, on one of the biggest tennis courts in the world.”
Djokovic: I was fortunate to hold my nerve
When pressed by Courier about his energy levels, Djokovic was on jovial form – in marked contrast to the serious demeanour he presented earlier in the fortnight when his troublesome hamstring was causing him pain.
“It’s great, it’s perfect, it’s 110 per cent. Stefanos, see you in two days!” he laughed.
He then turned a little more thoughtful: “Of course you are not as fresh as at the beginning of the tournament but we put in a lot of hours throughout the off-season weeks, on our fitness, on the court, in order to be in good condition to win best of five.
“I’ve been in this situation so many times in my career…moment to moment, point to point, it’s a great battle with yourself and with your opponent.
“We both had heavy legs, I think, in the first set. I was really fortunate to hold my nerve towards the end of the first set.
“I’m just really pleased to get through to another final.”
Djokovic: It’s always a battle with Stefanos
On Sunday, he will face Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek continues to chase his maiden Grand Slam title – and whoever lifts the trophy will also be the new world No 1.
The two have played one Grand Slam final before, at Roland-Garros in 2021, when Djokovic came back from two sets to love down to win 6-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
“I won that match so my recollections are very positive,” smiled Djokovic.
“It was a really physical, mental, emotional battle. It always is with Stefanos.”
So that is what fans can expect on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Paul heads home and can take some comfort from his exploits here, in which he reached his maiden Slam semi-final. He was bidding to become the first American man to reach the final in Australia since Andre Agassi 20 years ago – and although he fell at the last, he will still break the top 20 when the new rankings come out.