AO2023: Djokovic and Tsitsipas in final reunion

 - Alex Sharp

The men's silverware showdown for Australian Open 2023 is set and there is a date with destiny for both high-flying stars.

Stefanos Tsitsipas - Demi-finale Open d'Australie 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Novak Djokovic's era-defining career continues into another compelling chapter at Australian Open 2023.

It was this exact date 15 years ago when the Serbian was first crowned champion on Rod Laver Arena in 2008.

Fast forward through another masterclass, the nine-time champion is just one win away from No.10 and tying Rafael Nadal at the top of the men's Grand Slam Roll of Honour on 22 titles.

Djokovic ready to climb "biggest peaks" again

"It means everything at this stage of my career. I'm really thankful that I have enough gas in my legs to play at this level on one of the greatest tennis courts in the world," said the Serbian after wrapping up a blistering 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 victory over American Tommy Paul.

100 points won on the night to down Paul, 31 were winners, it was the 35-year-old giving the strongest indication yet that his left hamstring is not hampering his supreme level.

"Of course, you are not as fresh as at the beginning of the tournament but we put in a lot of of hours in the off season. I know what's expected and I have been in so many positions in my career," said Djokovic, who can return to world No.1 next week.

"It's a great battle, with yourself and the opponent. Long rallies and you could feel the heavy legs in the first set but I was fortunate to hold my nerves. After that I was swinging through the ball more and I am just pleased to get through another final."

Standing in his path is world No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is also in striking distance of his own milestone of a first Grand Slam trophy.

It's a rematch of the 2021 Roland-Garros final thriller, when Djokovic reeled in the Greek to collect the Coupe des Mousquetaires for the second time.

Novak Djokovic / Demi-finales Open d'Australie 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

"I won that match so my recollections are very positive. I was two sets to love down and it was the first time I came for two sets to love down in a final. It is a very physical and emotional battle," added Djokovic, holding a 10-2 favourable record over the world No.4.

"Tsitsipas is one of the most interesting guys on the tour but it is all business on Sunday and let the better player win.

"Winning a Grand Slam and being number one in the word is probably the two biggest peaks you can climb as a professional player. Let's do it."

Tsitispas within reach of childhood dream

Earlier on Friday Tsitsipas maintained his unbeaten start to 2023 to quell the comeback attempt of Karen Khachanov 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3.

No.18 seed Khachanov saved two match point to haul the third seed into a fourth set, but Tsitsipas was the conductor on Rod Laver Arena, banishing three previous semi-final losses to finally book his maiden Melbourne Park finale.

Stefanos Tsitsipas / Demi-finale Open d'Australie 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

At 4-4 in the second set, the 24-year-old retrieved three smashes in the same point and eventually came out on top in the 22-shot rally. A defiant raised fist, this was the crunch time, Tsitsipas cajoling the crowd during another scintillating display.

It was a pinch me moment for the third seed.

"I watched Marcos Baghdatis a couple of years ago (2006) being in the finals, playing on this court so I dreamed as a kid to maybe one day to get to play on this court and compete with the best players in the world," said Tsitsipas, on a 10-match winning streak.

"It brings back memories of being a kid and watching it on TV and cheering him on.

"I have wanted to put Greek tennis on the map and me and Maria Sakkari have done that.

"I am in the final now, let's see what happens."

Should Tsitsipas lift his maiden Grand Slam, the raucous local Greek contingent will be hailing a new world No.1 on Monday.

"I like that number," said Tsitsipas with a smirk. "These are the moments I am working hard for to be able to play in finals like this."

"It's a Grand Slam final and I am fighting for that number one spot. It's a childhood dream. I am close and I am happy that this is coming in Australia, a place of significance for me."

Stefanos Tsitsipas / Demi-finale Open d'Australie 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT