Australian Open: Novak Djokovic beats Andrey Rublev to book Tommy Paul semi-final in Melbourne
Novak Djokovic gave another masterclass at the Australian Open to beat fifth seed Andrey Rublev in straight sets and advance to the semi-finals.
Djokovic won a 6-1 6-2 6-4 triumph in Melbourne, where he is aiming for a record 10th crown and a 22nd Grand Slam title, to set up a final encounter with American Tommy Paul.
Djokovic targeted Rublev’s forehand and second serve with venomous returns in windy conditions at Rod Laver Arena and took a 3-1 lead in the first set after the fifth-seeded Russian double faulted on the breaking point and that the Serb has moved away from there.
After taking the lead with a brilliant backhand crosscourt winner, Djokovic showed how tough he was to beat on the biggest stage despite a tied thigh due to a hamstring problem after breaking his the fourth seed in the fifth game of the second set.
He played exquisitely to save a break point in the next game and let out a huge roar before doubling his advantage in the contest after a frustrated Rublev unloaded on his coach in the stands following another double fault.
Djokovic surged at the start of the next set with Rublev looking clueless and a seventh quarter-final loss in an imminent major as the former No.1 capped off a convincing win on serve.
Paul defeats Shelton in all-American showdown
Tommy Paul became the first American to reach the Australian Open semifinals since Andy Roddick in 2009 after outplaying compatriot Ben Shelton 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 5-7 6-4 more early Wednesday.
Paul kept his cool in the big runs and held off his 20-year-old opponent’s searing serve well to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final. He joins John Isner and Frances Tiafoe as the only active American men to reach the last four of a major.
“Yesterday I did a lot of interviews where I was asked what it was like to be in the quarters, but the semis sound better,” Paul said. “I’m delighted to be here and excited to play in the next round. Achieving a Grand Slam is everyone’s dream.”
Paul took a tight first set at Rod Laver Arena in a tiebreak after a ferocious forehand spurred Shelton back into the net, and the 25-year-old took a 4-2 lead in the following set when Shelton’s booming serve cracked.
Shelton, playing in the main draw at a Grand Slam for only the second time, began to spray errors on the pitch and world number 35 Paul took a 2-0 lead with his fourth ace in the contest.
Shelton came back into the match taking the third set despite a break at 4-3, but Paul recovered from a drop in level to go on the offensive in the fourth.
By increasing the pressure on Shelton’s serve, Paul got the decisive first break, although he could have taken a double break at some point. He missed that chance when his coach Brad Stine told him to expect a serve on the “T”, only for Shelton to see the cue on the big screen and shoot wide for another ace.
Playing fearlessly, world number 89 Shelton fired 24 aces in the match, including some of the fastest serves in the tournament, although he was also hampered by 50 unforced errors.
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