Yevgeny Kafelnikov has no doubts: In the near future there will be a Russian Grand Slam champion, “this is inevitable”. The prediction of former number one world champion Roland Garros (1996) and the Australian Open (1999) became closer to reality with the presence of two Russians in the Australian semi-finals. But the great candidate for the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup is still Novak Djokovic. In the last test of his fitness, the Serb defeated Alexander Zverev and made a big step towards the Open for the ninth time.
The leader of the rankings denied Zverev nine of 12 breakpoints, one of which could be won in a fourth game target after three and a half hours: 6-7 (6/8), 6-2, 6 – 4 and 7-6 (10 / 8th). The 23-year-old German won more points in first service (74%), second service (49%) and in the answer games (32%) than the opponent, but Djokovic was more effective on the important points and made six out of nine break points and finished with the 23rd ace since 2014, the 11th win in a row against a top 10 opponent on the courses of Melbourne Park.
“Everyone could win up to the last point. There was a lot of tension, a lot of pressure. Emotionally I felt a bit exhausted, “admitted the Serb who had already had a lot of difficulties (6-7, 6-2 and 7-5) in overcoming Zverev 11 days earlier in the ATP Cup.
In relation to the injury he sustained in the third round, Djokovic responded on the pitch with two challenging wins in a row, both in four sets. “I didn’t train on my days off. I will continue to do so and hope that the result will be the same, ”said the 33-year-old tennis player.
Djokovic, who won the title in the last eight games in the Australian Open semi-finals, will speak to Russian Aslan Karatsev, who continues to surprise in Melbourne, about a place in the final. Yesterday the Russian was lucky with Grigor Dimitrov’s injury, which he won 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 and 6-2.
Karatsev blamed the heat and offered little resistance in the first set, where he ended with 19 easy mistakes and only three winners. In the second game, Dimitrov failed to take advantage of seven breakpoints in the Russian’s first service games and suddenly his level of play dropped until he finished the game on foot. “I don’t like to give up,” said the Bulgarian, before explaining: “Yesterday I had a cramp in my back out of nowhere. In the morning I couldn’t even put on my socks. I tried but it wasn’t good enough. “
Karatsev, 27 and 114 in the world rankings, is the fifth player from qualifying to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam – and the first to reach it since 1977 in Australia – and the worst to be in a major that far away is. since Goran Ivanisevic at the Wimbledon tournament in 2001. Karatsev is initially guaranteed a guaranteed entry into the top 50 and a check for 539 thousand euros, which is higher than the total cash prizes he has earned in his career (510 thousand euros) .
The other Russian semi-finalist came from the duel between compatriots Daniil Medvedev (4th) and Andrey Rublev (8th), which was supposed to take place at 4 a.m. on the Portuguese morning.
At the women’s tournament, Serena Williams met Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals, who she defeated in the 2018 US Open final. About three weeks ago Serena won her matchmatch -2, 2-6 and 10/7 in an exhibition game in Adelaide).
“I’ve seen her meetings and of course that she has seen mine. I think this is a good opportunity for me to keep playing my best tennis, ”said the 39-year-old American after beating Simona Halep (2nd) with a double 6-3. Serena (11th) won 20 of the 26 points she played on her first service and rallied 24 winners to move on in the quest for her 24th Grand Slam title.
Osaka (3rd) has never lost in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament and has increased the number of games in a row to 19 by dominating the unpredictable Su-Wei Hsieh (71st) in 67 minutes with a double 6-2.