Australian Open: Novak Djokovic beats Tommy Paul, sets up championship showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas

Sports Friday 27/January/2023 20:23 PM
Australian Open: Novak Djokovic beats Tommy Paul, sets up championship showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas

Melbourne : Nine-time champion Novak Djokovic marched into the final of the Australian Open 2023, overpowering America's Tommy Paul in the semi-final clash at the Rod Laver Arena on Friday.

Djokovic produced a scintillating performance to prevail over Paul 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 and book a final clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas. Djokovic is on the brink of a record-extending 10th Australian Open title after overcoming a sluggish start to defeat the American. The Serb superstar prevailed over the American in a match spanning two hours and 20 minutes.

Tsitsipas previously defeated Karen Khachanov 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3. Sunday's championship clash at the Rod Laver Arena will also decide the new No.1 in ATP men's rankings. The new Australian Open champion will replace Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz as the men's No.1 in the new rankings that are to be published on Monday.

For the most part of his battle with Paul, Djokovic seemed at ease. The lone exception came in the first set, when Paul capitalised on a barrage of errant groundstrokes by the Serbian to overcome a double-break disadvantage and tie the match at 5-5.

Despite making 24 unforced errors in the first set, Djokovic recovered to win it. His crisp groundstrokes helped him grab a crucial break in the 12th game. The Serb maintained his lead throughout the second and third sets, winning the first four games in each set to prevent his less fancied opponent from getting his nose in front in the contest.

"I was really fortunate to hold my nerve toward the end of the first set. It was a key. After that I started swinging through the ball more, so I'm just really pleased to get through to another final," quoted Djokovic as saying.

"It means everything, especially at this stage of my career. I need that engine, I need that energy and I'm really thankful that I still have enough gas in my legs to be able to play in this level on one of the biggest tennis courts in the world," said Djokovic on the fan support at the Rod Laver Arena.

"Of course it [adds extra significance]. Winning Grand Slams and being the No. 1 in the world are probably the two biggest peaks that you can climb as a professional tennis player. Let's see what happens," said Djokovic, on the ranking scenario.