Novak Djokovic advances to Australian Open final after defensive masterclass against Grand Slam debutant Aslan Karatsev

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The world No.1 looked impressive en route to his 6-3 6-4 6-2 straight-line victory over Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.

While Karatsev showed great determination in his first career Grand Slam semi-final, Djokovic’s experience and class shone as the Serbian reached his third consecutive Australian Open final. .

Djokovic will face Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will face each other on Friday, in Sunday’s final.

Having suffered an injury earlier in the tournament, Djokovic later admitted he was the fittest he had ever been in the tournament.

“I felt as good as I have felt so far in the tournament tonight,” he told media after his victory. “Physically, mentally.

“I was hitting the ball really well, mixing up the pace. [I] didn’t give him the same looks at all. [I] always sort of made him guess and served me well when I needed to get out of trouble, at the end of the second set.

“I’m just very happy with the performance. It came at the right time, before [the] last game of a Grand Slam [tournament]. Being in this situation many times [before] I think it kind of helps put all the pieces together so I can hit the right time at the right time, which is happening again. I am obviously very happy. I’m also happy to have two days off now. Recovery is always the priority. “

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Djokovic celebrates during his match against Karatsev.
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The wall

Playing in their first meeting, Djokovic does what he often tends to do when coming up against a new opponent: prioritize his defense.

Djokovic made only one unforced error in the whole set. If Karatsev looked the equal of the Serbian in the first matches, the world No.1 finally capitalized on the possible mistakes of Karatsev to break and then keep his serve to take the lead.

The eight-time Australian Open was in total control, breaking once again early in the second set to assert dominance.

Another break extended Djokovic’s lead and although Karatsev snapped to suggest a comeback could be on the cards, Djokovic held up several break points to clinch the second set.

Djokovic plays a backhand against Karatsev.

Karatsev was shattered in his first service match of the third set and the 17-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic closed the game comfortably.

However, after making the semifinals of his first Grand Slam and showing courage in riding one of the best in the sport, Karatsev can go home with his head held high.

Djokovic will now be looking to seal an 18th Grand Slam title and move within two of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who jointly paved the way for the most Grand Slams in men’s singles with 20 titles each.

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Djokovic plays a forehand against Karatsev.

“No matter who I’m up against on Sunday, I’m ready for the toughest game of the tournament, without a doubt,” said Djokovic.

“I mean, these two guys are in great shape. Medvedev is playing [at] an extremely high [level]. He’s on a winning streak. He’s just the man to beat. On the other hand, Tsitsipas produced phenomenal tennis last night against Rafa. Coming back from two sets against Rafa [at] a Grand Slam, any Grand Slam, is a huge effort. “

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