Clinical Novak Djokovic eases past Andrey Rublev into Australian Open semi-final

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Novak Djokovic has cranked up his Australian Open title charge, coolly dispatching fifth seed Andrey Rublev in straight sets to reach his 44th grand slam semi-final and 10th at Melbourne Park.

Nine-time champion Djokovic shook off any concerns about his lingering hamstring injury and gave short shrift to hecklers as he comfortably beat the Russian 6-1 6-2 6-4 in two hours and three minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Two nights after Djokovic wiped the floor with Australian hope Alex de Minaur in the fourth round, the world No.5 left 25-year-old Rublev scrabbling for answers in a one-sided contest.

“I would rank it as No.2 but very close to the performance of two nights ago,” Djokovic said.

“I cannot be happier with my tennis, honestly.

“I’ve been playing very solidly from back of the court and really love playing in these conditions and this court.

“I’ve said it many times, I love playing here. Definitely most special court for me.”

Djokovic will head into his semi-final as heavy favourite against unseeded American Tommy Paul, who beat compatriot Ben Shelton 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 5-7 6-4.

Only Roger Federer (46) has made more grand slam semi-final appearances than 35-year-old Djokovic, who is attempting to equal Rafael Nadal on 22 majors.

Djokovic, who missed last year’s Open due to his deportation saga, is now on a 39-match winning streak in Australia stretching back to 2018.

In beating world No.6 Rublev, Djokovic has now won 22 of his past 23 matches against top-10 opponents at Melbourne Park.

Rublev has now featured in seven grand slam quarter-finals without reaching the semi-finals.

Djokovic never had his serve broken and was only really bothered by a spectator’s consistent heckling as he comfortably won the first set.

Rublev was reduced to frustrated screams on multiple occasions in the second set, where he mounted more of a challenge but was still outclassed, with Djokovic converting his fifth set point to claim it.

The star Serb broke Rublev’s serve in the opening game of the third set and carried on his merry way from there.

-AAP

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