Australian Open: Djokovic, Paul, Sabalenka, Linette through to semifinals
Novak Djokovic of Serbia defeated Russia’s Andre Rublev 6/1, 6/2, 6/4 to reach the semifinals of the ongoing Australian Open Tennis Championship, while America’s Tommy Paul outlasted compatriot, Ben Shelten 7/6(6), 3/6, 7/5, 6/4 to also make the last four.
In the women’s draw, Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka overpowered Donna Vekik of Croatia, 6/3, 6/2 and Magda Linette of Poland defeated Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic 6/3, 7/5.
Djokovic took the first set quickly, as he handled the ferocious serves and forehand shots fired from across the net. He also took the second set and was leading five games to two in the third set. Rublev held serve in the eighth and ninth games, but Djokovic served out the match at love. The last point of the match summarised the entire battle, as Rublev’s usually lethal forehand landed in the net on his side.
Rublev achieved 72 percent in first service delivery, but Djokovic’s service returns denied him points on them. The nine-time Australian Open champion cancelled five break threats, while Rublev converted only five of 14 break opportunities on Djokovic’s serve.
Croatia’s Vekic had defeated Sabalenka in five of their previous six encounters. In many of her service games, Aryna lost the first two points, but recovered with powerful serves. She took the first game of the match on her serve, while Vekic committed three of her 11 double faults in the second game.
Sabalenka broke her opponent’s serve in the fourth game but lost her serve in the fifth. Vekic battled through a long sixth game but took it on an ace. Serving with new balls, Vekic hit her ninth double-fault to lose the eighth game and her opponent served out the set in 60 minutes.
Vekik took a seven-minute bathroom break and returned to lose her serve in the first and third games of the second set. A forehand winner by Sabalenka clinched the break in the fifth game and her eighth ace gave her a 5-1 lead. Vekic took the seventh game, but despite two double faults, Sabalenka delivered her ninth ace and hit a forehand winner to close the set and match.
Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic faced a fellow 30-year-old Magda Linette of Poland, but the Czech player was not her usual domineering player. Her lethal forehand failed her at critical points in the entire match.
On the last point of the match, after a long exchange, Pliskova hit a forehand into the net to give the polish player victory and her first ever Grand Slam semifinals.