It was another near-perfect display of tennis from the 35-year-old, as he continued his seemingly inevitable march towards a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam with a 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory in just two hours. Kept and three minutes
Djokovic is now playing the best tennis of his career and has dropped just 12 games in his last two matches, extending his Australian Open winning streak to 26, equaling Andre Agassi’s record.
The early signs were ominous for Rublev, who was still feeling the effects of his five-set epic against Holger Röne, with the Russian broken in just the third service game.
It was a blow from which he never recovered, as Djokovic ran away with the match and moved a step closer to winning a 10th Australian Open title.
“I would rank this win as No. 2. [this year]But very close to his performance two nights ago, Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “I couldn’t be happier with my tennis. I’m playing very solid from the back of the court, I love playing in these conditions … This court, I’ve said before, it’s the most special court for me.
“The scoreline in the first two sets doesn’t speak to the reality of the match, we had some close games. Andre is a great competitor and a great player, I have a lot of respect for him. I knew what the game plan was, but it’s one thing to envision how you want to play and another to execute on the court. In the most important moments, I found my best tennis.
“I’ve tried just about every biofeedback machine on the planet to develop my leg, it worked and I’ll continue. I miss tennis on my days off, but these particular It’s important to be smart and sensible with the body in situations where it’s more important to be ready for the next challenge.”
Djokovic will now face American Tommy Paul, who is playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final, for a place in the Australian Open final on Sunday.
“Obviously, he doesn’t have much to lose, the first time in a Grand Slam semifinal,” Djokovic said. “He’s been playing some great tennis over the last 12 to 15 months … so I’ve got to be mentally prepared, not going any different for the last couple of matches.
“If I play like this, I think I have a good chance to go through.”
After Rublev’s previous win against Rune, several commentators commented that the Russian had already mentally conceded defeat to Djokovic.
Asked about his chances of reaching his first career Grand Slam semi-final, Rublev joked that it would have been nice if the quarter-final was against someone other than the Serb.
It was a comment made in jest, but coming after a tough five-setter, it likely revealed a genuine fear that most players feel when they know a match against Djokovic is coming.
Indeed, in the early stages, Rublev had already begun to cut a frustrated figure as Djokovic’s early brilliance forced him to try and fight for every single point to win.
Rublev’s resistance was broken in just his second service game and already looking a beaten man, Djokovic soon broke again and ran away with the first set 6-1.
There was little improvement in the second set, at least, as Rublev held serve twice before being broken, but it seemed he could do little to stop Djokovic’s onslaught. He always felt it was only a matter of time when, if not, Rublev would break.
Despite winning comfortably so far, Djokovic was visibly frustrated off court and shouted to his box on several occasions during the second set.
It wasn’t clear exactly what he was upset about, but the wind blew at Rod Laver Arena several times during the rallies, forcing both men to make mistakes.
Or, perhaps, almost Djokovic has been so used to this tournament, that just one stray shot was a shock to the system.
“You have to make adjustments and adapt to the conditions,” Djokovic said of the wind after the match. “When I was warming up it wasn’t so windy around six o’clock and it started at the start of the match.
“When you have a strong wind at your back, the people in the stands or on TV don’t notice much difference, but for the players, it makes a big difference.”
The second set proved to be a much tougher test for Djokovic as he faced serious pressure on serve twice – 3-2 and 5-2 – but held firm on both occasions to take a strong two-set lead.
Things soon went from bad to worse for Rublev, as this time he was broken in the first game of the third set. If the match wasn’t over before, it certainly is now.
To Rublev’s credit, he continued to fight for every point and the third set took longer than the previous two, but it wasn’t enough to deny Djokovic a place in his 10th Australian Open semifinal.