Australian Open: Novak Djokovic seeks title and ATP throne
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 9574
A 21-time Major winner Novak Djokovic has moved a win away from his tenth Australian Open crown. The Serb remained perfect in the semi-final encounters in Melbourne following a 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 triumph over the American Tommy Paul in two hours and 21 minutes.
The lower-ranked player gave his everything in his first Major semi-final, erasing a massive deficit in the opener before fading from the court. Thus, he missed a chance to become the first American finalist in Melbourne since Andre Agassi in 2003.
Novak extended his record and reached the 33rd Major final, hoping to lift the 22nd title against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday. Djokovic and Tsitsipas are yet to lose a match in 2023, and the winner of that clash will become world no.
1 on Monday, replacing Carlos Alcaraz after 20 weeks. Novak lost serve twice and stole half of the return points. Djokovic turned them into seven times and made the difference. The Serb had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range rallies, and the American prevailed in the most extended ones.
Novak Djokovic is through to his tenth Australian Open final.
The Serb did not look good in the opening set, spraying too many errors and arguing with the chair umpire over a time violation. However, Novak saved two break points in the encounter's first game and settled into a fine rhythm on the return.
Djokovic broke Paul in games two and six and built a 5-1 advantage in half an hour following the rival's forehand mistake. Novak served for the set in game seven and squandered a set point after a forehand error. Suddenly, Tommy raised his level and pulled one break back.
The American produced a fine hold in game eight to extend the set and broke for the second straight time in the next one when the Serb landed a forehand long. Tommy produced another fine hold in game ten to lock the result at 5-5 and gain a massive boost.
Djokovic stayed calm and used his vast experience to turn the tables. He held at love in game 11 and clinched his third break in the next one after Tommy's loose forehand to wrap up the opener 7-5 in 58 minutes. Novak tamed his strokes nicely in the second set and saved three break points in the only troubled game to keep the pressure on the other side.
He broke the American in games two and four to forge a massive 5-0 advantage. Paul avoided a bagel with a hold in game six, and Djokovic held at 30 in the next one for 7-5, 6-1 in 35 minutes. Eager to seal the deal as soon as possible, Novak broke the opponent twice in the third set's early stages for a 4-0 lead.
Tommy avoided a bagel with a hold in game five, and Novak produced a perfect hold with a forehand winner in the next one for 5-1. Paul served to stay in the match in game seven and held with a nice smash to extend the encounter. Djokovic served for the victory at 5-2 and held at love to emerge at the top in style.