Jannik Sinner’s rapid ascent continued as the 22-year-old advanced to the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the first time ever. In a late-night match, he outplayed Andrey Rublev with a score of 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-3, capping off a thrilling day at Melbourne Park.
Due to the draw ceremony, a highly anticipated matchup between Sinner and Novak Djokovic has become a reality. Sinner, who has yet to lose a set, will face off against Djokovic for a spot in the final. Djokovic, the top seed, continued his quest for an 11th Australian Open title with a hard-fought victory over 12th seed Taylor Fritz, ultimately winning 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Djokovic secured his record-breaking 48th major semi-final win and his 11th appearance in the semi-finals of the Australian Open with a victory. In every previous instance of reaching this stage in Melbourne, the 36-year-old has emerged as the tournament champion.
Djokovic put in a considerable amount of effort to fend off Fritz, who had previously lost all 8 matches against the Serbian player. Despite this, Fritz showed bold and aggressive play in the first two sets, serving exceptionally and successfully defending against all 15 break points. Although he had two set points on Djokovic’s serve in the first set, Fritz bounced back to win the second set before Djokovic ultimately gained control.
Djokovic expressed that he faced challenges in the beginning sets, largely due to his opponent’s exceptional tennis skills. During his on-court interview with Nick Kyrgios, Djokovic mentioned that his opponent had a strong serve and stayed close to the line, making it difficult for him to compete in the rallies. As a result, Djokovic often found himself on the defensive during most of the rallies.
Djokovic has extended his winning streak at Melbourne Park to 33 matches, tying the record held by four-time champion Monica Seles. The significance of this achievement is heightened by Djokovic’s admiration for Seles, whom he idolized during his youth. He expressed his love for her and the impact she had on his life, as his former coach Jelena Gencic – who he refers to as his “tennis mother” – also worked with Seles in her early years.
“I kept hearing about Monica – her actions, eating habits, sleeping routine, and training methods. She was definitely one of my childhood idols and role models, and I greatly admired her. When I finally had the opportunity to meet her for the first time, I was extremely nervous.”
Sinner and Rublev, who were seeded fourth and fifth, were anticipated to have a difficult match. Sinner won the first set, but Rublev fought back in the second set and took a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak. However, Sinner showed his resilience and played exceptionally well under pressure. He won six consecutive points from 1-5, ultimately winning the set.
Sinner and Rublev are currently only one spot apart in the rankings, and they both have a similar style of dominating tennis from the baseline. However, there is already a significant gap between them, and it continues to widen. Sinner’s well-rounded and diverse game, coupled with his ability to stay composed under pressure, ultimately gave him the edge in their match, resulting in a win in three sets. Unfortunately, Rublev’s curse of not being able to progress past the quarter-finals in grand slam tournaments persists, as he now holds a record of 0-10 in this stage of the competition.
Aryna Sabalenka and Sinner achieved swift wins in straight sets during the night session, resulting in a reasonable finish at 1:22am. This saved Tennis Australia from embarrassment, as they had faced criticism for their poor scheduling at the Australian Open. Without the decisive victories, the matches could have potentially ended very late.
Tennis Australia chose to begin the day session on Rod Laver Arena at 1pm, which was an hour later than the usual start time for the tournament. The matches between Coco Gauff and Marta Kostyuk, as well as Djokovic and Fritz, lasted 3 hours and 8 minutes and 3 hours and 45 minutes, respectively. As a result, the match between Sabalenka and Barbora Krejcikova did not begin on Rod Laver Arena until 9pm, which was two hours later than originally planned.
In the first semi-final for men, as the possibility of a very late night approached, officials from Tennis Australia discussed with the players in both night matches the option of relocating one match to Margaret Court Arena.
Sabalenka stated that they were asked for their opinions on possibly being moved during the match. They responded by saying they would wait to see how the match progresses and if it becomes lengthy, then it would be wise to be moved. They mentioned not wanting to have a similar situation as Medvedev’s match the previous night. Despite Novak winning the set 6-2, they ultimately decided to wait for the current match.