Tennis

Novak Djokovic advances to Australian Open semifinals with dominant win over Rublev

Two days after advancing to her first Grand Slam tournament quarterfinal, unseeded Magda Linette has gone one better and is into the Australian Open semifinals.

Magda Linette upends former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova

Man waves to the Melbourne, Australia crowd.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after winning in the quarterfinal match against Andrey Rublev on Wednesday in Melbourne. ( Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic continued making his quest for a record-extending 10th Australian Open title look like a walk in the park by demolishing Andrey Rublev to reach the last four on Wednesday.

The Serb, still wearing a thigh strapping but looking supreme, raced to a 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory with a performance that would have been uncomfortable viewing for American Tommy Paul.

Unseeded Paul won 7-6(6) 6-3 5-7 6-4 in an All-American quarter-final clash against 20-year-old Ben Shelton to advance to the semi-finals of a major for the first time.

A disbelieving Magda Linette continued her dream Australian Open run by stunning former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova to set up a semifinal against Aryna Sabalenka.

Fifth seed Sabalenka, the only top-10 seed left in the women's draw, earned her spot in the semifinals by outmuscling Donna Vekic 6-3 6-2 in a ferocious battle of big hitters on a baking Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic is making a mockery of the theory that the second week of Grand Slam tournaments get tougher.

In the last 16 he dropped five games against home hope Alex de Minaur and he was just as ruthless against Rublev as he made it 25 successive wins in succession at the Australian Open.

Fifth seed Rublev has now lost all seven Grand Slam quarterfinals which he contested.

"I would rank this as very close to the performance of two nights ago," Djokovic said on court. "I'm playing very solid from the back of the court and really love these conditions.

"The scoreline maybe in the first two sets tonight didn't show the reality of the match. But all the important moments I found my best tennis."

Paul is only the third active American man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final, joining John Isner (2018 Wimbledon) and Frances Tiafoe (2022 U.S. Open) but will have to register a seismic shock if he is to go any further.

"I'm really excited, man. It's really cool. I think it's even cooler if I do play Novak," the 25-year-old Florida-based Paul said after his victory.

"To play Novak here in Australia would be awesome. Obviously he's pretty comfortable here in Australia. It's going to be a challenging match. But I'm playing some of my best tennis."

Paul, the first American man to reach the semi-finals in Melbourne since Andy Roddick in 2009, withstood some ferocious serving from Shelton who banged down 24 aces.

"Ben's tough to play against and he's going to be in many matches like this," Paul said.

Paul is not the only unseeded player in to the semis.

Magda Linette of Poland celebrates with both hands on her face after defeating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open.
Magda Linette of Poland celebrates after defeating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (Dita Alangkara/The Associated Press)

Linette reaches semifinals

Two days after advancing to her first Grand Slam tournament quarterfinal, Linette has gone one better and is into the semifinals.

The 30-year-old Linette beat Pliskova 6-3, 7-5 on Wednesday, adding the former No. 1 to the list of top players she has beaten at Melbourne Park during this tournament.

Linette, who had lost seven of nine previous matches against Pliskova, had defeated Anett Kontaveit, Ekaterina Alexandrova and WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in successive rounds.

A player from Poland was favoured to reach the latter stages of the tournament, but it was top-seeded Iga Swiatek that everyone would have expected — and not Linette.

"It's so emotional I can't really believe it," Linette said. "I tried to stay composed and took my chances when I could."

Linette will now play No. 5 Sabalenka. The women's semifinals are scheduled for Thursday night.

Vekic, who had 13 double faults against Sabalenka, had a succinct appraisal of her serve: "I mean, it was all over the place. But I think mostly in the net."

The other women's semifinalists were determined on Tuesday. Two-time former Australian champion Victoria Azarenka will play Wimbledon titleholder Elena Rybakina for a chance to play in Saturday night's final. Rybakina beat Swiatek in the fourth round.

The other men's semifinal on Friday will see third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas play Karen Khachanov.

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