Australian Open: Djokovic routs Rublev to reach semi-finals – as it happened | Australian Open 2023

Key eventsShow key events onlyPlease turn on JavaScript to use this featureTime to sign off, but we’ll have a full report online shortly. Until then, here’s Tumaini Carayol on Wednesday’s earlier action. Thanks for joining me. Bye!Djokovic has a further chat with Eurosport. “The first two sets were really strong from my side, I held my serve after breaking.” Reflecting on his nine Australian Open titles, he talks about “dreaming big”, growing up amid the war in the former Yugoslavia. “I wanted to be the world No 1 at seven years old,” he adds. Djokovic also gives presenter Barbara Schett some flowers – what a smooth operator. Outside the arena, his fans are still chanting and waving flags.So, the semi-finals are set. In the women’s draw, two-times former winner Victoria Azarenka will face Elena Rybakina, while her fellow Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka will take on surprise semi-finalist Magda Linette. In the men’s singles, Karen Khachanov faces Stefanos Tsitsipas before Novak Djokovic takes on first-time slam semi-finalist Tommy Paul. It’s hard to see anyone stopping Djokovic getting a 10th title, while I fancy Sabalenka to win her first grand slam.Here’s Novak: “I’ve been playing very solid, I love these conditions and this court, it’s very special. You have to make adjustments and adapt [to the breeze], you have to pick and choose your shots. Overall, I think the scoreline in the first two sets doesn’t reflect the match – we had some very close games. I knew what the game plan was – if I had to sum it up, on the most important points and shots, I found my best tennis.On facing the unseeded Tommy Paul in the semi-finals: “He doesn’t have anything to lose, he’s been playing some great tennis here – I’ve got to be ready for the match, play it like any other, and I hope if I play like I have been, I can get through.” Djokovic is reminded of his first grand slam semi-final, against Roger Federer at the 2007 US Open.He sends some love to his old rival – “tennis misses him” – and sings Happy Birthday to his mum. Textbook crowd-pleasing stuff from Nole.For Rublev, it’s a seventh grand slam quarter-final defeat – and apart from a marathon loss to Marin Cilic at last year’s French Open, all have been in straight sets. It’s a barrier the Russian is desperate to overcome – the loss to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open left him in tears – but I’m not sure what else he could have done today.Novak Djokovic beats Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-4!Djokovic starts with an ace out wide – then another on second serve. A heckler disrupts the Serb’s rhythm, but Rublev can’t take advantage as he nets meekly. Three match points, another netted Rublev forehand, and it’s job done with the first love-hold of the match. Djokovic advances to the semi-finals, and is the white-hot favourite to lift the trophy on Sunday.Updated at 10.57 GMTThird set: Rublev 1-6, 2-6, 4-5 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) Rublev is denied a first love-hold of the match by a fizzing Djokovic return, but puts away a forehand winner at 40-30. Djokovic, unbroken thus far, will serve for the match as we hit the two-hour mark.Third set: *Rublev 1-6, 2-6, 3-5 Djokovic (*denotes next server) Having saved five break points in the first two sets, Djokovic has not offered Rublev a chance at one in this set. Despite an untimely double fault, he moves one game from victory with an exquisite drop-shot/lob combo that leaves Rublev chasing shadows.Third set: Rublev 1-6, 2-6, 3-4 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) Rublev edges ahead on serve with an excellent overhead smash, followed up with an ace. He’ll be happy to make the scoreline look more respectable, but Djokovic is two service holds away.Third set: *Rublev 1-6, 2-6, 2-4 Djokovic (*denotes next server) I’m not sure Djokovic has quite hit the heights of his performance against Alex De Minaur, but he has still been so dominant, repeatedly winning the key points and giving Rublev nothing to work with. He bullies his way to the hold here, helped by a helpful net-cord bounce that he really didn’t need.Third set: Rublev 1-6, 2-6, 2-3 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) Rublev is visibly weary but keeps himself in the set with a hold to 30. By the way, since losing his second-set tie-break to Enzo Couacaud in the second round, Djokovic has won 10 straight sets – by scores of 6-2, 6-0, 7-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 and 6-2.Third set: *Rublev 1-6, 2-6, 1-3 Djokovic (*denotes next server) Djokovic kicks off with an 11th ace, before Rublev misses the baseline as the breeze picks up again. Another ace seals the hold, crunched down the middle and met with only a weary shrug.The Recap: sign up for our weekly newsletter, and get a roundup of our best sport features direct to your inbox every Friday. Just pop your email address in here:Third set: Rublev 1-6, 2-6, 1-2 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) At 30-all, Rublev produces a superb pick-up off the baseline that 99% of players wouldn’t even chase. Djokovic gets it back with interest, but Rublev saves the break point and ends the run with an overhead smash and a big serve out wide. Well played.Third set: *Rublev 1-6, 2-6, 0-2 Djokovic (*denotes next server) Djokovic makes it seven games in a row, and I’m starting to wonder when (or if) Rublev will stop the rot.Third set: Rublev 1-6, 2-6, 0-1 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) Rublev takes a comfort break, but it doesn’t help as Djokovic starts set three in ominous fashion, racing to two break points. Rublev produces a brilliant, daredevil running forehand to save the first, and grinds his way to deuce. Can you guess what happens next? Well, Djokovic produces a well-timed drop shot – and gets the break as Rublev miscues a volley. Oh Andrey!On total points won, Djokovic leads 71-51 – closer than the lopsided box score might suggest. The killer stat for Rublev is that he is 0/5 on break points – and in almost every key mini-battle so far, Djokovic has prevailed. It almost feels cruel how hard Rublev is working out there, for virtually no return.Updated at 11.04 GMTDjokovic wins the second set, leads 6-1, 6-2Second set: *Rublev 1-6, 2-6 Djokovic (*denotes next server) With Djokovic holding two set points, Rublev produces two of his best shots of the match, ripping cross-court winners on either side to force deuce. A fifth break-point of the match – and like the other four, Djokovic saves it, crunching a backhand winner. On we go, Rublev just failing to steer a Djoko smash back into play. At the fifth time of asking, Djokovic gets the set with a booming first serve.Novak Djokovic is making light work of his Russian opponent. Photograph: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty ImagesUpdated at 10.16 GMTSecond set: Rublev 1-6, 2-5 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) After seeing another two break points pass him by, Rublev stumbles from 30-love to break-point down, and can’t contain his despair after double faulting. From almost getting back in the set, he has handed it to Djokovic, who will serve for a two-set lead.Second set: *Rublev 1-6, 2-4 Djokovic (*denotes next server) Rublev takes the first point but loses a 23-shot rally where Djokovic repels everything thrown his way. The wind helps Rublev prevail in the next exchange, though, and he gets a break-back point as Djokovic gets his footwork wrong.Djokovic saves it in a gruelling rally, letting out a roar as the winner evades Rublev’s racket. Two more mighty first serves, and Djokovic comes through another test of his mettle. Rublev now has words with the umpire – possibly unhappy at Djokovic pushing the shot-clock on serve.Updated at 10.00 GMTSecond set: Rublev 1-6, 2-3 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) Are we about to see another gear change from Djokovic? He finds the baseline again, and a fizzing return is wafted out of play by a dispirited Rublev. Three break points – he grinds out the first, but Djokovic breaks with some trademark rubber-legged baseline strokes and Rublev nets. An hour on the clock, and Djokovic has this match in the palm of his hand.Second set: *Rublev 1-6, 2-2 Djokovic (*denotes next server) Djokovic has had a go at a spectator, the umpire and his coaching team so far. Disappointingly for Rublev, the bad mood is not really affecting his game as he holds again with ease.Darkness falls on the Rod Laver Arena. Photograph: Lukas Coch/EPAUpdated at 10.18 GMTSecond set: Rublev 1-6, 2-1 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) There have been glimmers of hope for Rublev, but he hasn’t found an area in the game where he can consistently hurt his opponent. He gets enough behind the forehand to hold here, with Djokovic offering some angry words to Goran Ivanisevic up in the stands. Considering he’s in control of this match, he seems to be in a bit of a funk out there.Second set: *Rublev 1-6, 1-1 Djokovic (*denotes next server) There has been a stiff breeze blowing across court throughout the early stages, and it helps Rublev make in-roads against the serve here. A trademark ferocious forehand gets him to deuce, but Djokovic gets through the game with two unreturnable second serves in a row.Second set: Rublev 1-6, 1-0 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) Rublev did not play all that badly in the opening set, and lost six games out of seven. Djokovic begins the second set by complaining to the umpire, James Keothavong, about the heckling. Rublev gets on with the job, kicking off the set with a welcome service hold.Updated at 09.38 GMTDjokovic wins the first set 6-1!First set: *Rublev 1-6 Djokovic (*denotes next server) Rublev is beginning to shrug and sigh as Djokovic routinely finds the lines – but an unexpected rally earns him his first break point of the set. It’s saved with an ace, before a double fault offers another opportunity. Again, the first serve is unstoppable and a fortunate flick off the net cord helps him to set point – converted with a backhand into the corner.Andrey Rublev couldn’t match Djokovic in the first set. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty ImagesUpdated at 09.35 GMTFirst set: Rublev 1-5 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) Djokovic pauses mid-game to complain about a heckler, disrupting him on “every single point”. Rublev looks on the verge of handing this set over but keeps clinging on, seeing off four break points. On the fifth, Djokovic simply has too much, pinning his opponent back and drawing the error. Double break!First set: *Rublev 1-4 Djokovic (*denotes next server) That will be incredibly deflating for Rublev, who had looked in marginally better shape early on. He keeps fighting, stepping in on the second serve to make it 30-all. When the Djoko first serve lands in, it’s a different story, as a game-sealing ace confirms.First set: Rublev 1-3 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) Djokovic did not look entirely happy during that service game, one errant first serve particularly irritating him. Rublev makes a solid start here with some aggressive shots, but again lets a 40-15 lead slip to deuce. Djokovic digs out a return in trademark style to earn a break point – and Rublev double-faults! Oh dear.Djokovic races for a forehand return. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty ImagesUpdated at 09.15 GMTFirst set: Rublev 1-2 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) Rublev will be happy to get through that first test, but Djokovic certainly made him work for it. Can he apply any pressure on the Djokovic serve? It’s not firing on all cylinders just yet, but he takes the game with a cross-court winner.Updated at 09.15 GMTFirst set: Rublev 1-1 Djokovic* (*denotes next server) After opening with a double fault, Rublev comes through what may be the first of many long rallies – but Djokovic stays in the game with a clinical, baseline-clipping lob. Rublev steps forward to put away a forehand at break-point down, and gets on the board with an ace. At the changeover, a bottle of water is apparently sent down to Djokovic from his coaching box.Updated at 09.33 GMTFirst set: *Rublev 0-1 Djokovic (*denotes next server) Djokovic, his left thigh heavily strapped once again, fires down some big first serves to hold. Rublev does offer some threat on second serve, particularly with a ferocious cross-court winning forehand.Andrey Rublev hits a backhand. Photograph: Hannah McKay/ReutersUpdated at 09.15 GMTHere they come! Both players out on court, with Djokovic getting a big ovation. Plenty of Serbian flags fluttering in the stands at the Rod Laver Arena. It’s currently a balmy 26 degrees in Melbourne, with a bit of breeze too.Updated at 08.48 GMTHead-to-head: Djokovic leads Rublev 2-1 in their three previous meetings, having beaten Rublev twice on hard courts at the ATP finals – but the Russian can take heart from a victory in last year’s Belgrade final. Admittedly, that was on clay and Djokovic was not in peak form – but Rublev won the last set 6-0, the only player other than Rafa Nadal to bagel big Nolé in the last five years.Here’s Tumaini Carayol on Wednesday’s quarter-final action in the women’s draw, where Magda Linette continued her unexpected run:The winner here today will face Tommy Paul in the semi-final, after he emerged victorious from the earlier all-American battle with Ben Shelton, winning 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. The 25-year-old reached the fourth round at last year’s Wimbledon, but this is his best performance at a grand slam by some distance.PreambleAndrey Rublev is seeded just one place below Novak Djokovic, but that rather undersells the size of his task today. The Russian is 0-6 in grand slam quarter-finals, losing five of those matches in straight sets. He has the all-round game to go further, but it will be tough to overcome that hurdle today against a man chasing history.Djokovic is one win from equalling Andre Agassi’s 26-game winning run in Melbourne, and the favourite to clinch a scarcely believable 10th Australian Open this week. He has taken a while to hit top gear this year, held back by a hamstring injury early on but after dispatching Alex De Minaur in ruthless fashion, he is undoubtedly the man to beat.Play starts shortly, so get comfortable and follow along right here – and you can get in touch with me via email or on Twitter.

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