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‘It’ll be awesome’ – Tommy Paul on prospect of Djokovic semi-final

The scale of the task facing him in the Australian Open semi-final does not worry Tommy Paul

Tommy Paul Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – January 25, 2023 Tommy Paul of the U.S. celebrates winning his quarter final match against Ben Shelton of the U.S. (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Tommy Paul became the first American man since 2009 into the Australian Open singles semi-final – and even as the second of the day’s quarter-finals was progressing, he was already fairly sure who he’d be facing.

Novak Djokovic had raced to a 5-1 lead in the first set against Andrey Rublev before Paul’s press conference began – and the 25-year-old predicted that he would be taking on the challenge of the nine-time Melbourne champion.

“I’m really excited, man,” he enthused, having beaten compatriot Ben Shelton 7-6 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. “It’s really cool. I think it’s even cooler if I do play – I think I saw Novak 5-1 in the first or something. That’s probably who I want to play. I mean, probably have a better chance of winning if it’s Rublev, but to play Novak here in Australia would be awesome.”

Paul – Playing Djokovic is going to be challenging

Paul revealed that he saw Djokovic in the locker room in the gap between the two quarter-finals.

“He said, ‘Congrats’,” Paul said. “I think we have practised before. I mean, I’m sure we practised before. But, yeah, we never played a match against each other. Obviously he’s pretty comfortable here in Australia. It’s going to be a challenging match. But I’m playing some of my best tennis, so it’s a good time.”

Djokovic echoed Paul’s words in his own post-match interview, saying: “In all the important moments, I found my best tennis.”

The two will meet in Friday’s semi-final – Paul for a maiden Grand Slam final, Djokovic for his 11th just in Australia.

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