MELBOURNE—Novak Djokovic was the blockbuster decider on Friday as he advanced to his record-breaking 10th Australian Open final, battling Greek trailblazer Stefanos Tsitsipas for the top spot in the world rankings. rice field.
The nine-time champion continued his perfect semi-final record at Melbourne Park by beating American Tommy Paul 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena.
Tsitsipas defeated 18th seed Karen Khachanov of Russia 7-6(2) 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 on Center Court to become the title decider in the city with the most Greek population. He was the first Greek to arrive. Outside the countries of Southern Europe.
Djokovic was in a bad mood even when he took a 5-1 lead in the first set, repeatedly yelling at the players box in Serbian.
He got into an altercation with the referee about how long it would take to get a towel between points, causing a big heckle from the fans.
Sensing an opportunity, Paul increased the pressure with some excellent tennis, beating the Serb twice and leveling the match at 5-5 after overtaking Djokovic in a 30-shot rally.
But 15 years after Djokovic won his first Australian Open title at the age of 20, it was good for Paul when he won 14 of his last 17 games with an astounding counter-attack. bottom.
On the court, Djokovic said: “I’m really grateful that my legs still have enough energy to play at this level on one of the biggest tennis courts in the world.
“I know these things wouldn’t be possible without my family and my team.”
Tsitsipas enjoyed a golden afternoon in the warm sunshine to win his first Australian Open semi-final in his fourth attempt.
Sunday’s decider would be a rematch of the 2021 French Open final, but Djokovic left Greece heartbroken by winning from two set downs.
The winner will take first place in the ranking from Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz.
“I want that number,” Tsitsipas said.
“This is the cornerstone of the finals… It’s a childhood dream to one day be number one. It’s almost here.”
“I’ve wanted to put Greek tennis on the map for years and me and Maria (Sakkari) have done an incredible job.”
Tsitsipas can rely on a huge contingent of Greek fans to match Djokovic’s army of Serb supporters.
They were fully voiced when they traded breaks with Khachanov in the opening set of See-Saw before Khachanov came alive in a tie-break.
Tsitsipas was shaken by three foot faults and two time violations on his serve, but took the second set consistently.
Khachanov, who broke down in the third inning, showed great courage to fight back to 5-5 and take the tiebreak after Tsitsipas blew two match points.
But Tsitsipas regrouped and closed out the game in a dominant fashion after winning a blistering 3-0 victory in the final set.
Sania Mirza’s bid for the mixed doubles title at her last Grand Slam came as she and Rohan Bopanna lost to Brazilian pair Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos 7–6 (2) 6–2. , was thwarted, so it was a bittersweet day for Indian tennis fans. Last.
Mirza, India’s most successful female player, will retire after playing in Dubai next month.