Novak Djokovic reaches his ninth Australian Open Final after overcoming stomach injury problems and an inspired effort from 114th-ranked underdog Aslan Karatsev
- Novak Djokovic reached the Australian Open final with defeat of Aslan Karatsev
- The world No.1 overcame the underdog Russian in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
- The injured Serbian now faces Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas in final
Novak Djokovic reached the Australian Open final for the ninth time in his career after stopping underdog Aslan Karatsev on his fairy tale Grand Slam run.
The World No.1 has been plagued with a stomach injury for much of the tournament but showed no signs of struggle in this tie as he powered past the 114th-ranked shock semi-finalist, winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
It was ultimately a welcome comfortable evening for Djokovic, after an injury-hit display against Taylor Fritz and a nail-biting victory over Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals.
Novak Djokovic reached the Australian beat Aslan Karatsev in Australian Open semi-final
The World No.1 overcame a mighty effort from 114th-ranked Russian Aslan Karatsev (left)
The Serbian will have two days to recover ahead of facing either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas as he bids to win his 18th Grand Slam.
Karatsev, whose remarkable run to this stage has been one of the stories of the grand slam, made Djokovic work all the way to claim the victory. An amazing rally won by the Russian in the first set earned a thumbs up from his established opponent.
He admitted that left him feeling emotionally drained and this was not entirely straightforward, with Karatsev clawing his way back from 1-5 to 4-5 in the second set and forcing Djokovic to save two break points.
Karatsev was far from overwhelmed by Djokovic but his efforts were not quite enough
The top seed let out a mighty roar when he took the second set in what proved to be decisive
The roar let out by the top seed when he clinched the game showed what a big moment it was, and he ended with a run of four games in a row.
It looked a long way back for the Russian after Djokovic broke straight away in the third, and a rallied fight back to break the Serbian to make it 2-2 proved not to be enough.
Djokovic inflicted another blow by immediately breaking twice more to see out the contest and completed the victory in an hour and 53 minutes in front of a returning crowd at the Rod Laver Arena.
Spectators were able to return to the Rod Laver Arena following a five-day local lockdown
Djokovic, who will play in a 28th slam final against either Medvedev or Rafael Nadal’s conqueror Tsitsipas on Sunday, said: ‘This is the best I’ve felt in the entire tournament.
‘(I) felt great, I could swing through the ball, no pain. Best match so far. It came at the right time and I’m thrilled to feel this way.
‘I have two days now. I’ll definitely train one of the next two days. Recovery is priority right now. I’m feeling the ball well, I had enough match play, so right now it’s just gathering all the necessary energy for the most important match.’
The 27-year-old will sky rocket into the top 50 having never previously been in the top 100
Karatsev’s victory over Grigor Dimitrov on Tuesday made him the first man in the Open era to reach the semi-finals on his grand slam debut, and he was looking to become the first qualifier to make a final.
The 27-year-old Russian, who will rocket into the top 50 having never previously been inside the top 100, was far from overwhelmed against Djokovic but he discovered just why the Serbian is renowned as arguably the greatest defensive player the game has seen.
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