Novak Djokovic Dismantles Andrey Rublev to Reach Australian Open Semifinals

Novak Djokovic Australian Open Round 3

Fourth seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia beat fifth seed Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-1 6-2 6-4 on Wednesday to move into the Australian Open semifinals. The 35-year-old thus remained in pursuit of a record-equaling 22nd Grand Slam title and is only a couple of matches away from an incredible 10th title in Melbourne Park.

The match lasted for a little more than two hours, as Rublev struggled to pose a serious threat to an opponent almost a decade older than himself. Djokovic will face Tommy Paul of the United States in the semifinal and might set up a showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final.

Novak Djokovic Dismantles Andrey Rublev to Reach Australian Open Semifinals

Rublev’s shortcomings on his backhand wing made Djokovic’s job easier:

Even before the match started, most of the tennis lovers knew that Rublev would try to test Djokovic’s defense with his explosive forehand. However, the Russian found out that the Serb’s defense was better than that of anyone he had faced in the tournament in the first four rounds.

Moreover, Rublev also committed a lot of unforced errors by repeatedly hitting his backhand into the net to allow the Serb to win some easy points. A number of Djokovic’s service games saw the score level at deuce, but the Serb was then often let off the hook by the Russian’s errors. Rublev was not able to hit a single winner off his backhand in the match and committed 11 unforced errors off it.

Djokovic became more clinical and error-free as the match progressed. He committed a total of nine unforced errors in the last two sets, while Rublev committed 19, finishing with 29 in the match against the Serb’s 21.

Djokovic broke Rublev in the fourth and sixth games of the first set, but then himself faced a break point in the seventh game. However, Rublev could not make use of it and allowed Djokovic to serve the set out.

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Djokovic served very well and showed great athleticism to retrieve balls on his backhand side:

Djokovic served really well in the match, and his serve kept bailing him out during testing moments. The Serb fired 14 aces in the match and won 80% of the points on his first delivery, while Rublev managed only 61%.

Moreover, the Russian won only 32% of the points on his second serve, which was often punished by the greatest returner of all time. Rublev was broken twice in the second set and then once in the third and faced 14 break points in the match.

The Russian tried to test Djokovic with his angled shots, especially towards the latter’s backhand wing. However, Djokovic displayed exceptional flexibility and athleticism to get to ball on most of the occasions to keep frustrating the Russian.

Main Photo from Getty.