February 18, 2021
Novak Djokovic is one match away from yet more Australian Open glory.
Either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas will stand in his way in what promises to be a spectacular final.
Novak beat the stunning qualifier and world number 114 Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Crucially he didn’t make the mistake of underestimating the Russian outsider.
The 27-year-old underdog didn’t look excessively nervous and he did as well as could have been expected in such a mismatch of a semi-final.
The Serb observed: ‘I expected him to play at a high level. He strikes the ball well, he is strong physically, has a good serve and picks up returns. It was an even match until 3-3 and 4-3. Then he played a sloppy game with new balls.’
The only hiccup for the favourite came in the second set when Novak was 5-1 up but allowed his sturdy opponent to recover to 5-4.
That mini-comeback was all to no avail. The 33-year-old was far too ruthless to allow the tide to turn for long.
Victory in the final would take Djokovic to an amazing eighteen Grand Slam titles – just two behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The race for supremacy will be beautifully poised when the Big Three reach Wimbledon 2021
Once he gets this far in Australia, Djokovic is not one to slip up.
But he understands the enormity of the threat he will face from either opponent – Medvedev in particular.
Novak admitted: ‘Medvedev is probably on the highest level of all in the last three months. And Stefanos did incredibly well to win, Rafa had been dominating that match.
‘It’s going to be interesting to see them play. I’ll get the popcorn ready and then analyse with my team.’
Given the mood he is in right now, in his most successful arena, it’s clear Djokovic doesn’t think he will be beaten.
He admitted: ‘I have two days’ rest now, I’m feeling the ball well, playing well, it’s a question of gathering energy for the most important match of all.
‘I’m really pleased with my performance, it’s the best of the tournament so far for me. Now I’ll recharge the batteries.’