One has won the tournament nine times, another will play in his fourth semi-final, his third in a row, and the other two have never before got past the third round in Melbourne, but all four of them are ready to pull out all the stops on Friday in a bid to reach the final of the 2023 tournament. We take a closer look at these exciting semi-final match-ups!
AO23: Paul, Khachanov, Tsitsipas and…Djokovic!
The line-up for the men’s singles semi-finals at the 2023 Australian Open is now complete: Karen Khachanov versus Stefanos Tsitsipas and Tommy Paul against Novak Djokovic.
Novak Djokovic, the clear favourite against Tommy Paul
Having defeated Andrey Rublev with ease, Novak Djokovic has progressed to his tenth semi-final at the Australian Open. Every other time he has reached this stage, the Serb has gone on to win the tournament, so his three potential opponents have a herculean task ahead of them!
“The last two matches, playing against two guys that are really good players, in form players, to beat them dominantly in three sets is something that sends a message to all my opponents remaining in the draw,” said the World No.6 in a press conference.
By clinching his 26th consecutive victory in the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic has not only equalled Andre Agassi’s record but has also sent out a clear message: he feels good, he is strong, and it will take a real exploit to deny him a tenth title in Melbourne. The next man to attempt to topple Djokovic, Tommy Paul, who defeated fellow American Ben Shelton in the quarter-finals, knows what to expect. “Obviously he’s pretty comfortable here in Australia so it’s going to be a challenging match, but I’m playing some of my best tennis so it’s a good time [to play him for the first time].”
“He’s a very explosive, very dynamic player, quick, very solid backhand. He likes to step in, dictate the point with the forehand,” said Djokovic of his next opponent. “Great service motion, I think he can hit all the spots with the serve. A very complete player. It’s the first semi-final for him so, of course, he doesn’t have much to lose. I’m sure that he’s going to go out trying to play his best tennis.”
Tsitsipas feels at home
The other semi-final scheduled in the Rod Laver Arena on Friday will be between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Karen Khachanov. Though the Greek player, who is currently World No.4 and won all five of their previous head-to-heads, is the logical favourite, he must nevertheless be wary of his Russian opponent, who reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at the most recent US Open.
Now World No.20, Karen Khachanov, who achieved his highest ranking of World No.8 in 2019, dazzled in the third round against Frances Tiafoe and at the beginning of his match against Sebastian Korda in the quarter-finals, before Korda was forced to retire due to a wrist injury at 7-6(5) 6-3 3-0.
“This is my second consecutive Grand Slam semi-final. I'm really happy about my level, the way I compete. I'm looking forward to competing in the semi-finals here in Australia for the first time,” Karen Khachanov said after his quarter-final.
Tsitsipas, meanwhile, feels very at home in Melbourne, where the large Greek community comes out in force to support him in every match. “Wherever I look I see Greek faces, I see Greek people speaking Greek. Of course, it's very important when you're far away from home,” he admitted after his match against Jiri Lehecka.
“I’m feeling great with my tennis. I don’t think I’ve felt so good in a long time. I will definitely say yes [it could be my year]. I’ve said it, I’m a different player, I’m playing different. When I’m out on the court, I don’t really think of the negatives. I just go out there and play the game.” Will this be enough to take him into his second-ever Grand Slam final? We’ll find out on Friday!