Novak Djokovic ties Andre Agassi's Australian Open win streak after latest masterclass against Andrey RublevBy Jan 25, 2023
Novak Djokovic breaks record for longest men’s winning streak at Australian Open in Open EraBy Jan 27, 2023
Stefanos Tsitsipas to play for Australian Open title and No. 1 ranking after defeating Karen KhachanovBy Jan 27, 2023
Novak Djokovic's father won't attend Australian Open semifinal matchBy Jan 27, 2023
Semifinal Previews: Do Tommy Paul and Karen Khachanov stand a chance against Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas?By Jan 26, 2023
The Rally: Rybakina vs. Sabalenka is a compelling battle for No. 1 in Australia, and No. 2 on the tour totem poleBy Jan 26, 2023
Flawless Aryna Sabalenka ends Magda Linette fairytale to reach first major finalBy Jan 26, 2023
Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina defeats Victoria Azarenka to reach Australian Open finalBy Jan 26, 2023
Russian flags, including image of Putin, part of gathering outside Rod Laver Arena; four evicted from Melbourne ParkBy Jan 26, 2023
Australian Open Semifinal Previews: Elena Rybakina vs. Victoria Azarenka; Aryna Sabalenka vs. Magda LinetteBy Jan 25, 2023
Novak Djokovic ties Andre Agassi's Australian Open win streak after latest masterclass against Andrey Rublev
The Serbian advanced to his 10th Melbourne semifinal, a position he has transformed into a major trophy in all nine of his previous trips.
Published Jan 25, 2023
After Novak Djokovic’s resounding performance in the round of 16 at the Australian Open, the nine-time champion posted an even bigger statement win Wednesday evening to move within two victories of equaling Rafael Nadal’s men's record of 22 major titles.
Djokovic broke down Andrey Rublev, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, to clinch his 26th consecutive win at the Melbourne major, tying former coach Andre Agassi for the longest Australian Open win streak by a male player in the Open Era.
"Overall, I think that the scoreline in the first two sets doesn't speak the truth or reality of the match," Djokovic told Jim Courier on court. "Andrey is a great opponent, he's a great player. I have a tons of respect for him.
"I knew what the game plan was. Obviously, one thing is to imagine how you want to play and the other thing is to execute it on the court. If i have to sum it up, all the important shots and important moments, I found my best tennis. That's what makes me, I guess, the most pleased tonight."
The 35-year-old improved to 10-0 on the season and upped his winning streak in Australia to 39 matches. Djokovic has now won his last 18 contests against Top 10 players Down Under dating back to a 2014 quarterfinal loss here at the hands of eventual winner Stan Wawrinka. He has never lost on Rod Laver Arena once reaching the semifinal stage at the season’s opening major, going 18-0, and will contest his 44th major semifinal against first-time Grand Slam semifinalist Tommy Paul come Friday.
"Last two matches, playing against two guys that are really good players, in-form players, to beat them dominantly in three sets is something that is definitely something that I want in this moment, something that sends a message to all my opponents remaining in the draw," stated Djokovic in his press conference.
"With this kind of game, of course the confidence level rises, considering the circumstances. I feel good on the court, better and better as the tournament progresses. I've been in this situation in so many times in my life, in my career, never lost a semifinals in Australian Open. Hopefully that will stay the same."
The brilliance of Djokovic’s return and keeping the ball away from Rublev’s forehand strike zone set the tone in this latest meeting. The No. 5 seed was pushed to deuce in his first three return games, including from 40-15 up in the first two. The result was the Serbian picking apart his opponent for a commanding lead.
While Djokovic showed a couple signs of distress when pushing off his leg in the early goings, it was quickly negated by his ball-striking accuracy. Rublev’s decision to direct his serves to Djokovic’s backhand in the ad court backfired. Prime examples were the two game points Rublev had for 2-2, when the Russian was burned by two supreme backhand crosscourt angles that immediately created an open lane for inside-in forehand finishes.
Though Djokovic had some up-and-down moments on serve (five aces, three double faults), he hit his spots when most needed to ensure Rublev had no chance of settling in.
Rublev posted consecutive holds in the second set. Djokovic nevertheless turned up the heat with another stretch of dazzling returns to open a 0-40 lead. He broke for 3-2 when Rublev’s attempt to step in with a forehand up the line was foiled by Djokovic’s outstretched deep backhand crosscourt reply to immediately shift the court positioning in his favor.
For a period, Djokovic fought with wind that made its presence known. Rublev’s chance to break back when Djokovic fell off a backhand follow through was erased by the 21-time major champion ending a 15-shot rally with a forehand laser and emphatic roar. A postcard moment that encapsulated the story of this contest.
Rublev yet again double-faulted to drop serve to fall behind a double break, and then lost his most competitive game of the eight when the fourth seed closed the door on his fifth set point. And with it, Rublev dropped to zero for five on break points through two sets.
Last two matches, playing against two guys that are really good players, in-form players, to beat them dominantly in three sets is something that is definitely something that I want in this moment, something that sends a message to all my opponents remaining in the draw. —Novak Djokovic
Unfortunately for Rublev, the night’s narrative never brought a plot twist, or luck to take to the casino. Two break point saves in the first game were a nonstarter, as he was broken for the fifth time after failing to close consecutive points at the net—the second with a wild forehand volley miss. The advantage was all Djokovic needed to ride out the match’s duration in finishing off the 25-year-old after two hours and three minutes. The final stat sheet saw Djokovic put 68 of 92 returns in play (including 23 of 28 on second serve), translating to Rublev winning just 52 percent of his points at the line.
"Out of [the[ three times that we played before, today he played much better compared [to] our previous meetings, even in Torino," Rublev said in press. "Today, in my opinion, he was playing much better. That's it. I don't know what else to say."
For Rublev, he fell to 0-7 in major quarterfinals, which include his last three Grand Slam appearances.