Australian Open Semifinal Predictions: Novak Djokovic vs Tommy Paul and Karen Khachanov vs Stefanos Tsitsipas

Novak Djokovic Australian Open Round 3

The men’s semifinal matches at the Australian Open are set. Novak Djokovic will take on rising American Tommy Paul, while in-form Stefanos Tsitsipas and Karen Khachanov will battle it out for a spot in the final. Is Djokovic unbeatable? Will either Khachanov or Tsitsipas falter? Our writers share their thoughts on both matches. Predicting these matches are Jim Smith, Damian Kust, Josh Hall, Nurein Ahmed, and Jack Edward. Who do you think will win?

Australian Open Semifinal Predictions

Karen Khachanov vs Stefanos Tsitsipas

Jim:
Khachanov has not attracted much attention this tournament, but he has played some excellent tennis to reach his second consecutive Grand Slam final. Don’t underestimate the Russian here. When he is the hitting ball with confidence, he is a very hard player to live with. That said, this is not a matchup that he has enjoyed.

Tsitsipas has won all five of their previous meetings, dropping only two sets in the process. The Greek has also looked very sharp so far in Melbourne, serving well and utilising his forehand to excellent effect. The backhand remains a concern, particularly his return, and Khachanov will likely seek to target that wing. But Tsitsipas should have just about enough to reach his second Major final.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in 5

Damian:
Tsitsipas is not in the final yet, despite what many tend to think. Khachanov is a potential banana skin and he’s been extremely good in best-of-five play of late, losing to just Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal, and Casper Ruud in his last 18 matches at Slams. He’s also been unable to step up against the very best opposition, though, and hasn’t beaten a Top 10 player since August 2019 (22 attempts!). He can come close here, but winning would probably require him to step out of his comfort zone, and he rarely does that these days.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in 5

Nurein:
Stefanos Tsitsipas is touted as the man that could push Novak Djokovic to his limits if they square off in the final. But we shouldn’t get carried away just yet as the Greek still faces a potentially dangerous semifinal against Karen Khachanov. The Russian has an awful record against the Greek superstar. He is still chasing that elusive first win in the series.

Recent history suggests Khachanov is unlikely to experience any joy on Friday. However, if he can scour for solutions, as he has done in wins over Kubler and Frances Tiafoe, he may give Tsitsipas a game. Khachanov has to attack the Tsitsipas backhand at all costs. That’s where he can extract the errors and keep most of the rallies at neutral whenever he feels like Tsitsipas is gaining an upper hand. I think the pressure might just get to Tsitsipas here and Khachanov could go against the script.
Prediction: Khachanov in 5

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Josh:
Tsitispas has breezed into a fourth semifinal at the Australian Open. He will get a stern test from Khachanov; the Russian has made back-to-back Grand Slam semifinals. I cannot picture many breaks of serves during this contest. Khachanov will try to target the backhand of the Tsitsipas, and this match will be dependent on how well the Greek plays off that wing. Ideally both men will not want a long match with Djokovic probably awaiting in the final; however, a short one is hard to see.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in 5

Jack:
With a huge Greek contingent at the Australian Open, Stefanos Tsitsipas has admitted to feeling right at home Down Under. This has helped him reach his three previous semifinals in the past – this year though, it hasn’t felt as though he’s needed the crowd to reach his fourth. The world #4 is playing fantastically under pressure having won 13 of the 19 games in which he’s faced break point. With conditions a little heavier than previous editions of the Australian Open, his forehand has been lethal and he’s been afforded a little more time to cover his oft-weak return.

Karen Khachanov covers his own serve well enough to make some use of this weakness. The majority of the rallies and the pressure moments should fall the way of Tsitsipas, however. Khachanov will put up some resistance but I’m backing Tsitsipas to make his first Australian Open final.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in 4

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Novak Djokovic vs Tommy Paul

Jim:
If one semifinal looks set to be a competitive encounter, the other promises to be anything but. Djokovic’s injury problems look far behind him and if his quarterfinal win over Rublev was not quite as convincing as the scoreline suggests, it was still a straight-sets dismissal of the World #5. If Djokovic can maintain that level, and there is no reason to think he can’t, this should be similarly straightforward.

Paul has had a great tournament, a just reward for the effort he has put in over the last couple of years to breakthrough on the ATP Tour and this shouldn’t be the last time we see Paul at the business end of a Major. But it is hard to think of anything he does better than Djokovic. Which means it is hard to see how he will be able to win a set, nevermind the match.
Prediction: Djokovic in 3

Damian:
It’s really hard to believe that Paul has any shot at Djokovic here. With the hamstring concerns gone, you have to be a player that’s both complete and explosive enough to battle the Serbian. Paul is the former, but not necessarily the latter. Djokovic should cruise to another Australian Open final here and it’s his next match where he could potentially lose if the opponent plays well. In this one, it’s very unlikely.
Prediction: Djokovic in 3

Josh:
Djokovic has hit another level in his last couple of matches. Paul offers a different challenge than both Alex de Minaur and Andrey Rublev–he has far more variety to his game. All the pressure should be on the Serbian and that could free up Paul to play without fear. I think Paul has the capability to sneak a set, unless Djokovic continues to play lights out. Expect Paul to try and come into the net and shorten the points when possible.
Prediction: Djokovic in 4

Nurein:
Is it even conceivable to think Novak Djokovic could lose this match? It would be a shock if he doesn’t go on to win the title from here. He came into this year’s Australian Open with a hamstring injury he picked up in Adelaide, just a week before the tournament. Conversely, he has only gotten better working day and night with his physio to get him in shape and playing without any pain. Such is the dedication that even at 35 and with 21 Major titles, he still has the hunger to achieve more. Djokovic lost seven games playing the sixth-ranked player in the world on Wednesday. And it’s almost an impossible mission that Tommy Paul has signed up for.
Prediction: Djokovic in 3

Jack:
What could Tommy Paul possibly do to trouble Novak Djokovic? The Serb is a nine-time champion at the first major of the year, unbeaten in semifinals and finals and on a 39-match win-streak in Australia.

Paul does have the bravado to go for some flashy transitions forward where other opponents have stayed glued to the baseline against Djokovic. This different tactic might have given the American a chance were it not for the fact Djokovic has been in a hurry in his last two matches. Dispatching Rublev and de Minaur with extreme ease has left me no choice but to back the former World #1 in straight sets.
Prediction: Djokovic in 3

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