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Djokovic: Red-Hot Form ‘Sends A Message’ To Australian Open Rivals

Dismantling high-flying opponents back-to-back in the latter stages of a Grand Slam is no mean feat, even for an ATP Tour great. Yet Novak Djokovic is not getting carried away after backing up his masterful fourth-round Australian Open display against Alex de Minaur by cruising past World No. 6 Andrey Rublev on Wednesday night in Melbourne.

"I can't really say that this is as confident that I ever felt because I've had some incredible seasons,” said Djokovic after racing to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 quarter-final win against Rublev. “[Some incredible] years here at the Australian Open, some matches that are really unforgettable for me. [It is] tough to compare because I've been fortunate to really live through a lot of success at the Australian Open.

“But [the] last two matches, playing against two guys that are really good players, in-form players, to beat them dominantly in three sets… That is definitely something that I want in this moment. Something that sends a message to all my opponents remaining in the draw.”

Djokovic is 10-0 for 2023 after downing Rublev. Despite being hampered by a left hamstring issue, the 35-year-old has made relatively seamless progress to the last four in Melbourne, where he can tie Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam crowns and return to World No. 1 by lifting the trophy. He now finds himself in a familiar position at the opening major of the season.

“With this kind of game, of course the confidence level rises… I feel good on the court, better and better as the tournament progresses,” said Djokovic. “I've been in this situation in so many times in my life, in my career, [and] never lost a semi-final at the Australian Open. Hopefully that will stay the same.

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Ruthless Djokovic Routs Rublev To Reach Australian Open Semi-Finals

Dialled-in and fired up, Novak Djokovic delivered a devastating quarter-final display Wednesday to breeze past Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 at the Australian Open.

Djokovic was taking on the highest-ranked opponent of his Melbourne campaign so far in World No. 6 Rublev, but he took command early and barely looked back in the pair’s maiden Grand Slam meeting. The fourth seed nullified Rublev’s powerful groundstrokes with typically resilient defence and hit cleanly through the ball from the baseline throughout, accelerating to a comfortable two-hour, three-minute victory on Rod Laver Arena.

"Overall I think that the scoreline in the first two sets doesn't speak the truth or the reality of the match,” said Djokovic in his on-court interview. “It was some really close games that we had. Andrey is a great opponent, a great player. I've got tonnes of respect for him, one of the biggest forehands, one of the the quickest players on the Tour.

"If I have to sum it up, all the important shots, the important moments I found my best tennis. So that's what makes me the most pleased tonight."

[BREAK POINT]

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Hijikata/Kubler Stun Koolhof/Skupski For SF Spot

Could local support power another title run for a home pairing this year in the Australian Open doubles?

Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler eased to a remarkable victory Wednesday at the hard-court Grand Slam in Melbourne, where the wild cards brushed past top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski to reach the semi-finals. In doing so, the Australian duo stayed on track to emulate their countrymen Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios’ 2022 triumph at Melbourne Park.

The home favourites broke serve in the opening game of the quarter-final clash and barely looked back thereafter en route to a 66-minute triumph on Margaret Court Arena. Hijikata and Kubler did not face a break point in the match and converted four from 10 break chances of their own against a team who won seven ATP Tour titles in 2022.

[ATP APP]

Hijikata and Kubler's semi-final opponents will be eighth seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, who defeated Andreas Mies and John Peers 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2. The Spanish-Argentine pair is through to the Melbourne semi-finals for the second straight year after dismissing the 14th-seeded pair that joined forces at the start of 2023.

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Paul Denies Shelton Comeback To Win All-American QF

In a Wednesday meeting of first-time Grand Slam quarter-finalists, Tommy Paul used his experience and consistency to ground the electric attack of Ben Shelton at the Australian Open.

A 7-6(6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 winner in Rod Laver Arena, Paul controlled much of the match with his aggressive yet steady baseline game. A late Shelton surge forced a fourth set, but Paul produced an instant response to end his 20-year-old opponent's tournament debut.

"Making it to the second weekend of a Slam, that's everyones dream when they start playing tennis," Paul said after advancing to his first major semi-final, "so I can't believe I'm here right now."

After three Americans reached the Melbourne quarter-finals for the first time since 2000, Paul is the first man from the U.S. to reach the semis since Andy Roddick in 2009 and the third active American to advance to the last four of a Grand Slam (John Isner, Frances Tiafoe). The matchup between Paul and Shelton, a Laver debut for both, was the first all-American major quarter-final since the 2007 Australian Open.

[ATP APP]

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Tsitsipas: 'My Mentality Is Different'

Stefanos Tsitsipas is a man on a mission at this year’s Australian Open. The Greek has earned straight-sets victories in four of his five matches, while he showed fighting spirit to come through his only major test against Jannik Sinner in the fourth round.

After defeating Jiri Lehecka to reach the semi-finals on Tuesday, the third seed was asked if he has what it takes to lift his maiden Grand Slam title in Melbourne. His answer was clear.

“I'm feeling great with my tennis. I don't think I felt so good in a long time. I will definitely say yes [to winning the title],” Tsitsipas said. “I've said it, I'm a different player, playing different. My mentality is different. When I'm out on the court, I don't really think of negatives, to be honest. I just go out there and play the game.”

Tsitsipas is playing for a double prize at the hard-court major. If the 24-year-old wins the trophy, he will rise to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time. With the pressure high, some would struggle both physically and mentally. However, Tsitsipas is relishing the challenge.

“There is this one sort of way of looking at tennis that you're really exhausted after every match. Every single thing you try to do on the court takes a lot of effort. There's this other version of tennis where you're doing your job, but you're enjoying it so much you don't care if it's exhausting or not. You're refreshed by it every single time,” Tsitsipas said.

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Steely Tsitsipas Sees Off Lehecka For Australian Open Semi-Final Spot

Grand Slam matches are frequently decided by the finest of margins, and so it was for Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jiri Lehecka on Tuesday at the Australian Open.

The third-seeded Tsitsipas prevailed 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-4 in the pair’s quarter-final clash at Melbourne Park, although the straight-sets scoreline disguised a closely-fought encounter. The 21-year-old Lehecka showed few signs of nerves on his Rod Laver Arena debut, striking confidently from the baseline throughout, but he was unable to match the Greek’s clinical execution at key moments.

“It felt different this time from any other match [this week], but the most important thing is that at the end I found a solution” said Tsitsipas in his on-court interview. “It was a very difficult three-setter, one of the most difficult ones that I had so far in the competition.

“I think Jiri had a very good tournament. He is someone who started playing well recently and I wish him the best in the future, because he is a great player.”

The win keeps alive Tsitsipas’ hopes of reaching No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time after the Australian Open. Just like fourth seed and nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, the Greek can leapfrog Carlos Alcaraz into top spot by lifting the trophy at the opening Grand Slam of the year.

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Peaking Djokovic Meets Rublev In Australian Open QFs

With Stefanos Tsitsipas and Karen Khachanov already through to the Australian Open semi-finals, four men will bid to join them from the bottom half of the draw on Wednesday at Melbourne Park.

Novak Djokovic continues his bid for a record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title when he faces Andrey Rublev in the evening session, after unseeded Americans Tommy Paul and Ben Shelton square off during the day on Rod Laver Arena.

ATPTour.com breaks down the remaining singles quarter-final matchups, as well as the two doubles quarter-finals on the Day 10 schedule.

View Schedule | View Singles Draw | View Doubles Draw

[ATP APP]

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‘Head High & Keep Working’: Korda Eyes Next Steps After Sparkling Melbourne Run

Sebastian Korda’s Australian Open campaign may have ended in injury disappointment on Tuesday in Melbourne. Yet the 22-year-old’s post-match mindset did not reflect that.

“There are a lot of positives,” said Korda, who trailed Karen Khachanov by two sets and a break in their quarter-final clash before retiring with a wrist injury on Rod Laver Arena. “Way more positives than negatives. Today was tough, but hopefully it's nothing serious and I can take care of it, so I don't have it in the future.

“[It was] still a great tournament [for me]. My first quarter-final in a Grand Slam. I'm going to go forward with my head high and keep working.”

Korda had his wrist taped at 3-2 in the second set against Khachanov and struggled to hit his forehand from that point on. He ultimately retired with his opponent leading 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-0, and later revealed it was a recurrence of an issue that he first experienced during his run to the championship match at the Adelaide International 1 in early January.

“I had it a little bit in Adelaide a couple weeks ago, but then it went away,” said the American. “During the matches [in Melbourne], it was completely fine. Then just one kind of mishit return, and it started to bother me a lot of after that.

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Chardy/Martin Seal SF Spot At Australian Open

Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin reached their first Grand Slam semi-final as a team Tuesday when they upset third seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(4) at the Australian Open.

The Frenchmen had not dropped a set en route to the quarter-finals and played with confidence against the 2022 Roland Garros champions, firing in the big moments as they converted three of their four break point chances to advance after one hour and 58 minutes.

Chardy and Martin are making their fourth appearance as a team in Melbourne, with their best result before this year being a third-round run in 2018.

[ATP APP]

Their semi-final opponents will be Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski, who defeated Frenchmen Benjamin Bonzi and Arthur Rinderknech 6-1, 6-4 earlier on Tuesday.

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Khachanov Seals SF Progess After Late Korda Retirement

Karen Khachanov advanced to his second consecutive Grand Slam semi-final on Tuesday night after Sebastian Korda retired in the third set of their Australian Open matchup with a right-wrist injury. The 18th seed was leading 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-0 after winning seven straight games following a medical timeout for the American midway through set two.

Khachanov won a hard-fought opening set, regrouping with a strong tie-break after failing to serve it out at 5-4. He then saw three break points go begging early in the second set as he stayed on top with his consistent baseline game.

"For sure, back-to-back semi-finals in a Grand Slam feels great," he said in an on-court interview. "Obviously not the way you want to finish the match. I think until a certain point it was very competitive, a very good battle. Sebastian beat one of my friends, Daniil [Medvedev], in three sets and won in five sets against Hurkacz. He is playing great tennis.

"I'm feeling good, to be honest. I'm really happy about my level, about the way I compete, and looking forward to the semi-finals here in Australia for the first time."

[ATP APP]

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Long Journey, Great Reward: Shevchenko Claims Tenerife Challenger

After suffering a first-round defeat in the Australian Open qualifying, Alexander Shevchenko took the long trip from Melbourne to Tenerife to compete at the ATP Challenger Tour event on the Canary Island.

Although the journey may have been halfway across the world, it paid off as the 22-year-old didn’t drop a set all week en route to claiming the Tenerife Challenger 1, where he downed Austrian Sebastian Ofner 7-5, 6-2 in the final.

“The final was very tough,” Shevchenko said. “I had to go more aggressive and also had to win some points playing defence. A lot of fun emotions that I will remember for the rest of my career.”

 

Shevchenko is coached by Gunter Bresnik, who has worked with prominent players such as Boris Becker, Patrick McEnroe, Dominic Thiem, and Gael Monfils.

Andrea Collarini triumphs at the Brasil Tennis Challenger.
Sho Shimabukuro in action at the Bangkok Open 3.
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Djokovic: Dominant Win ‘Gives Me Reason To Believe’

Novak Djokovic’s straight-sets win against Alex de Minaur on Monday answered some big questions related to the Serbian’s 2023 Australian Open title bid. Not just for those watching on as he dismantled the home favourite on Rod Laver Arena, but also for the nine-time champion himself.

“A week ago I didn't really think about the title, I just thought about being in a good enough condition to play the next match,” acknowledged Djokovic after easing past De Minaur 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 in two hours and six minutes. “Until tonight. Tonight, the way I played, the way I felt, gives me reason now to believe that I can go all the way.”

Djokovic sustained a left hamstring injury en route to lifting his 92nd tour-level title at the Adelaide International 1 earlier this month, and he appeared to be affected by it at various times throughout the opening three rounds at Melbourne Park. That was not the case against De Minaur on Monday, when he moved with freedom throughout his imperious win.

“I always believe I can go all the way in terms of my tennis,” said the nine-time Australian Open titlist. “But the way my leg felt before tonight wasn't giving me too many hopes, so to say, for the entire tournament, to go all the way through. Tonight, I feel that, so I feel positive about it.”

Djokovic delivered a near-flawless performance on Rod Laver Arena, with De Minaur later calling it ‘Novak very close to his best’. The 35-year-old, who will return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings should he lift the trophy in Melbourne, was reluctant to get too carried away with his display but acknowledged it as his best of a 2023 season in which he now holds a 9-0 record.

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Playing With 'Freedom', Shelton Thriving In Melbourne

To say Ben Shelton’s first trip outside of the United States has been a success would be an understatement.

When the American set off for Australia, he was stepping into the unknown. Fast forward one month and the 20-year-old is playing like a seasoned pro, with his victory against J.J. Wolf propelling him into the quarter-finals on debut at the Australian Open.

Speaking after his five-set win on Monday, Shelton admitted that his run in Melbourne has surpassed all expectations.

“[It is] definitely a surprise,” Shelton said. “I got on the plane with no expectations. I know that it's very hard to adjust to Australia from the United States just with the jetlag, time change and everything. It being my first time, never being out of the United States, I knew it would be a struggle.

“But I think it has helped me a little bit having that expectation or the feeling that I have to perform, but being able to just go out there, be myself and play free. I think that's been a big contribution to my success.”

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Tsitsipas Meets Lehecka, Khachanov & Korda Collide In Australian Open QFs

The men’s singles field at the 2023 Australian Open is down to eight and Tuesday’s action sees half the remaining competitors bidding for a semi-final spot.

Stefanos Tsitsipas seeks to halt the dream run of Jiri Lehecka in the night session on Rod Laver Arena, where the third-seeded Greek is chasing his third consecutive Australian Open semi-final appearance. Earlier on Tuesday, Karen Khachanov and Sebastian Korda are in action, with both players appearing in their maiden Australian Open quarter-final.

ATPTour.com previews the quarter-final matchups on Day 9 at Melbourne Park.

View Schedule | View Singles Draw | View Doubles Draw

[BREAK POINT]

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Quarter-Final Bound! Paul Powers Past Bautista Agut At Australian Open

The Americans are out in force in the 2023 Australian Open quarter-finals, and among them is Tommy Paul.

The 25-year-old delivered a rock-solid fourth-round performance Monday at Melbourne Park, where he prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in a clean-hitting matchup against Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Paul was a constant menace to the Spaniard in his return games on Margaret Court Arena. He converted six of 15 break points to maintain the upper hand for much of the match, despite a second-set Bautista Agut revival. Against a player renowned for his ability to regularly hit through opponents, Paul outhit Bautista Agut by 58 winners to 35 to seal his 11th-straight victory against Spanish opponents in three hours and 19 minutes.

Paul takes on Ben Shelton next in Melbourne after the 20-year-old downed J.J. Wolf in five sets to extend his dream Australian Open debut. With Sebastian Korda also into the quarter-finals, this marks the first time since 2000 that three American men have reached the last eight in Melbourne — and the first time at any Slam since the 2005 US Open.

More to follow…

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Djokovic Dispatches De Minaur, Remains On Track In Melbourne

Question marks were raised about Novak Djokovic’s fitness throughout the first week of the Australian Open. Playing with a hamstring injury that was strapped, the Serbian looked in discomfort throughout his victories against Roberto Carballes Baena, Enzo Couacaud and Grigor Dimitrov.

With all eyes on the Serbian, his fitness fears were put to bed against Alex de Minaur on Monday. In a dominant display, the former World No. 1 moved freely to dispatch the Australian 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 and reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne.

"I really wanted to win in straight sets," Djokovic said. "You obviously don't know what is going to happen on the court. I thought the first four, five games was close. After breaking serve in the first set, I started feeling more free and more loose to hit through the ball and be more aggressive.

"I thought he was a bit more nervous towards the end of the second [set] and the beginning of the third set. I thought that was my opportunity to capitalise on those chances. Tennis is a very quick and dynamic sport. Things can change in a matter of moments, matter of points. But I kept my focus all the way through and played the best match of the year so far."

[ATP APP]

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Aussies Hijikata/Kubler Save MP, Reach Melbourne QFs With Stadium Win

Australian wild cards Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler thrilled their home fans in Margaret Court Arena as they advanced to the Australian Open quarter-finals in dramatic fashion on Monday. In a 1-6, 7-6(8), 6-4 win against Tomislav Brkic and Gonzalo Escobar, the pair saved a match point with a winner at 7/8 in the second-set tie-break and rode that momentum to victory.

Despite winning 87 points to their opponents' 99, Hijikata/Kubler were at their best in the crucial moments as they edged the tie-break and won four of the match's final five games. It is the second straight match in which the pair battled back from a set down to advance, after their second-round win against sixth seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara.

Their victory sets up a showdown with top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski, who earned a 6-4, 6-2 win against Nikola Cacic and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi in Kia Arena.

[ATP APP]

Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski continued their run by shocking second seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 6-7(4), 7-6(8), 6-2. The unseeded pair saved one match point at 5/6 in the second-set tie-break before pulling away in the third set to earn victory against the 2020 Australian Open champions in two hours and 33 minutes.

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Rublev Saves 2 MPs To Win Wild Rune Encounter

The first Top 10 matchup of the 2023 Australian Open exceeded its blockbuster billing as Andrey Rublev edged Holger Rune 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(11-9) on Monday in Rod Laver Arena.

In a scarcely believable fifth set, Rublev fought back from 2-5, saved two match points on serve at 5-6, then clawed back from a 0/5 hole in the decisive tie-break. On his third match point, he clinched victory in the cruelest of ways from the Dane's perspective, when a net cord dribbled over the net.

"I never in my life was able to win matches like this," Rublev said post-match. "This is the first ever time that I won something like this, especially in a very special tournament, the Australian Open, to be in the quarter-finals. So it’s something I will remember for sure all my life. I have no words, I am shaking and happy.” 

Amazing Andrey!@AndreyRublev97 comes from 0-5 down in the match tiebreak to defeat Holger Rune in a classic at Rod Laver Arena.#AusOpen#AO2023 pic.twitter.com/Ms3S4Vi4wN

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2023

Over the course of three hours, 37 minutes, the twists and turns started early and began to build toward the climax early in the fourth set. Rune was struggling physically as he saved two break points in its first game, but after a visit from the trainer, he found and stole the set — but only after failing to serve it out at 5-3.

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Shelton Wins Battle Of Former College Stars To Reach QFs

American Ben Shelton continued his dream run at the Australian Open Monday when he overcame countryman J.J. Wolf 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne.

In a thrilling clash full of power hitting, the 20-year-old fired 64 winners and saved both break points he faced to earn the biggest win of his career after three hours, 51 minutes.

"It has been a dream so far," Shelton said after a second straight win in John Cain Arena. "Thank you to everyone who came out today, you guys are the best.

"It was a gruelling match. There were a lot of swings throughout the match, going to me and then him. I was focused on being energetic, trusting my fitness and hustling. I was courageous and I think I did a good job of competing at the highest level in the fifth set."

[ATP APP]

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Day 8 Preview: Djokovic, Demon Clash Down Under

Novak Djokovic looks to avoid an upset against home favourite Alex de Minaur when they meet in the fourth round Monday at the 2023 Australian Open. Also on Monday’s card is a Rod Laver Arena showdown which will decide the clash of Top-10 seeds Andrey Rublev and Holger Rune. And the Americans look to continue their strong performance in Melbourne, where Tommy Paul, J.J. Wolf, and Ben Shelton are all competing in the round of 16.

ATPTour.com looks at what to watch on Day 8 at Melbourne Park as players bid for a quarter-final spot.

[4] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [22] Alex de Minaur (AUS)

With a potential 10th Australian Open crown in sight, the fourth seed must first get past a tricky test under the lights on Rod Laver Arena as home hope de Minaur looks to spoil the Serbian’s chances in their first meeting.

[ATP APP]

Djokovic, who hasn’t lost in Melbourne since 2018 (did not play in 2022), is bidding to record his 25th consecutive match win at the Australian Open and equal his longest streak of victories at the season’s first Slam.

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