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Australian Open 2021 Semi-Final, Novak Djokovic vs Aslan Karatsev
- Updated: February 18, 2021
Novak Djokovic beat Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 53 minutes to reach his ninth final in of the Australian Open. He will now face the winner of the second men’s singles semi-final between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev.
Through the tournament, Djokovic has spoken about the abdominal injury that has hampered his movement but the Serb looked his best so far in the tournament and played an incredibly consistent game to get this easy victory.
Karatsev made history by becoming the first man in Open Era to reach the semi-final on his Grand Slam debut but he couldn’t go further as Djokovic kept things very tight and Karatsev struggled to keep hold of his serves even when he managed to break Djokovic’s a couple of times.
After the match, Djokovic congratulated Karatsev and said, “We need to give him a hand. Huge congratulations for reaching the semi-finals and making history. Well done to him.”
He further stated that today was the best he has felt all tournament and he will see if he can practice at least one of the two next days, something he has been avoiding to protect the injury.
He said he was looking forward to the other semi-final and that “it will be a great match-up, will take the popcorn and watch the semi-final.”
Ahead of the final, Djokovic had said that he hadn’t seen Karatsev at all before the Australian Open.
“He’s impressed a lot of people with his movement and firepower from the baseline,” said Djokovic — who is trying to win major number 18 — of an opponent who has only played 18 Grand Slam sets.
“He has a flat backhand, Russian school. Great backhand. Looks to run around and also hits some good forehands to dictate the play,” added Djokovic. “He doesn’t have anything to lose, really. He’s motivated.”
Karatsev is guaranteed to rise into the world’s top 50 after becoming the first man in the Open era to reach a semi-final on his Grand Slam debut, and just the second qualifier to do so at the Australian Open after Bob Giltinan in 1977. He was also the lowest-ranked man to make the semis at a Slam since Goran Ivanisevic was ranked 125 at Wimbledon in 2001.
The pair had never played before, with Djokovic admitting he knew little of journeyman Karatsev. However, he had said that he expected the Russian to come out, go for his shots and try his best. Well, Karatsev surely did try!