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Djokovic faces Sinner hurdle as Australian Open final beckons

football25 January 2024 21:24| Ā© AFP
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Novak Djokovic Ā© Getty Images

Novak Djokovic meets Jannik Sinner for a place in the Australian Open final on Friday, knowing he stands just two matches away from tennis immortality.


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The Serbian superstar, 36, will resume his march towards an 11th title and a record 25th Grand Slam crown in the afternoon session on Rod Laver Arena, again bumped from his favoured evening slot.

In the night match, the spotlight will be on Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev and Germany's Alexander Zverev, who knocked Spanish superstar Carlos Alcaraz out in the quarterfinals.

Alcaraz's four-set defeat by sixth seed Zverev has removed the man many considered to be the main threat to Djokovic, who now knows he will hang onto his No 1 ranking.

But Italy's Sinner has recent pedigree in matches against Djokovic, beating him in the group stage at the ATP Finals ā€“ though Djokovic came out on top in the final ā€“ and at the Davis Cup.

Djokovic is determined to keep intact his unbeaten streak at Melbourne Park, which currently stands at 33 matches ā€“ stretching back to 2018.

He did not compete at the event in 2022 due to his coronavirus vaccination status.

"I'm aware of the streak that I'm on and the amount of matches that I have won in my career on the Rod Laver Arena," he said.

"I don't want to let that go. The longer the streak goes, the more that kind of confidence, also expectations build, but also the willingness to really walk the extra mile."

Fourth seed Sinner, who has yet to drop a set, is expecting a searching test from the 10-time champion.

"This is what I practise for, to play against the best players in the world," said the 22-year-old, who is targeting a maiden Grand Slam title.

"Obviously has an incredible record here, so for me it's a pleasure to play against him, especially in the final stages of the tournament."

In the other semifinal, Zverev faces a tough battle against Medvedev, who will claim Alcaraz's world No 2 spot if he wins the tournament.

The two have met 18 times before but Medvedev has come out on top in five of the past six meetings.

"He's obviously extremely difficult to play. No question about it," said Zverev. "He's one of the best players in the world right now."

Medvedev is into an eighth major semifinal, but has only won one title ā€“ at the 2021 US Open.

He made the final at Melbourne in 2021 and 2022, but succumbed to Djokovic then Rafael Nadal, and has made clear he wants to go the way this time.

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