MELBOURNE/STARNBERG, February 18, 2021
Novak Djokovic came through his Australian Open semi-final against Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev in straight sets to stay on course for a record-extending ninth title at Melbourne Park. The top seed from Serbia ended the dream run of the World No. 114 following a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win on Thursday evening on Rod Laver Arena.
Karatsev became the first man in the Open era to reach the semi-finals of his first career appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament. He had already eliminated three seeded opponents to reach this stage Down Under, but the tournament’s top favourite proved to be too strong.
Djokovic struck 17 aces, winning 78 per cent of his first-service points. He converted six of his seven break-point chances to prevail after one hour and 53 minutes.
That Grand Slam semifinal winning smile 😁
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 18, 2021
Djokovic will play in a 28th Grand Slam final against either Russia’s Daniil Medvedev or Rafael Nadal‘s conqueror Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece on Sunday.
“This is the best I’ve felt in the entire tournament,” Djokvovic said. “I felt great, I could swing through the ball, no pain. Best match so far. It came at the right time and I’m thrilled to feel this way.
“I have two days now. I’ll definitely train one of the next two days. Recovery is priority right now. I’m feeling the ball well, I had enough match play, so right now it’s just gathering all the necessary energy for the most important match.”
Karatsev to crack Top 50
Despite his defeat, Karatsev was happy with his performance in Melbourne. “It was a great two weeks for me, start with the quallies. It’s a good experience,” he said during his post-match press conference.
To play against Novak, it helps me to get this experience, to feel the game, the way how he’s playing. It felt unbelievable. A lot of people were here supporting. It was a good atmosphere to play.
“It gives me more experience, more confidence. Now I will be playing all big tournaments without playing the qualies. So I’ll get this confidence and just keep playing, keep practicing.”
Karatsev is projected to crack the Top 50 when the new ATP Rankings will be released.
From qualifying to the semis…
— ATP Tour (@atptour) February 18, 2021