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Djokovic Beats Karatsev to Reach Australian Open Final

Djokovic Beats Karatsev to Reach Australian Open Final

Thursday, 18 February, 2021 - 11:15
Novak Djokovic during his quarter-final match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

World number one Novak Djokovic ended the dream run of Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev in the Australian Open semi-finals Thursday, maintaining his bid for a record-extending ninth title.

The 33-year-old Serb, showing no ill-effects from an abdomen injury sustained in the third round, overwhelmed the 114th-ranked Karatsev 6-3, 6-4 6-2 to reach his 28th Grand Slam final.

"This is the best I've felt in the entire tournament," said Djokovic, who hit 30 winners and 17 aces.

"I could swing through the ball. No pain. The best match so far."

Djokovic, 34, remains on course for his 18th Grand Slam trophy, nipping at the heels of rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who are on 20.

Spanish great Nadal said he wouldn't blame quarantine or look for other excuses on Wednesday after his Grand Slam record bid was torpedoed by an inspired Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open.

Nadal's hunt for a record 21st major title ended in five sets against the Greek fifth seed, who came back from two sets down to win 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 7-5 in 4hr 5min in the quarter-finals.

The 34-year-old was playing his first tournament of the year after back tightness, following a stint in Australian quarantine, kept him out of the ATP Cup team competition.

But he refused to blame the unusual build-up to the coronavirus-disrupted Grand Slam for his surprise defeat.

"We can find excuses or reasons, or maybe this quarantine that we need to be more time in the room than usual," he said.

"But I'm not the guy that's going to find excuses on that or going to complain about what happened, no.

"Just accept. I never considered myself an unlucky person at all. Doesn't matter the injuries that I had. I think I am a very lucky person."

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