PHOTO: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP
Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Karen Khachanov 7/6(2); 6/4; 6/7(8); 6/3 to set up a clash with Novak Djokovic, who is chasing a tenth title and a record tying 22nd Grand Slam.
The Serb reached his tenth final in Melbourne when he outplayed American Ben Shelten 75; 6/1; 6/.2.
Tsitsipas took the first set tie break by 7 points to 2. In the ninth game of the second set, he took Khachanov’s service game after a marathon 22-rally exchange. He delivered an ace to start the tenth game, dropped a point on a netted forehand but took the set when Khachanov returned a
serve into the net.
Khachanov held serve for the first game of the third set but struggled through four break points before conceding the third. Tsitsipas held two service games to lead 5-3. In his first short game of the set, led the ninth game and broke Tsitsipas to level 5-all. After he delivered an ace to win the eleventh game, he waved to the crowd. In the tie breaker Tsitsipas lost a match point at 6-4 and the Russian eventually took the set by 8 points to 6. After the bathroom break Tsitsipas returned and took 3straight games that progressed to a final set at 6/3 and a place in the finals.
Djokovic had never lost a semi final match in Melbourne. In a first career meeting with Tommy Paul, Djokovic raced to a 5-1 lead. Tommy Paul broke Djokovic’s serve to take the seventh game. When the American held serve in the eighth game the match was turned around. Djokovic lost four straight games to get levelled at 5 all. He then held serve in the eleventh game and took the set 7/5.
The Serb took the second set and raced to 4-0 in the third before Tommy Paul registered on the score board at 4-2. Djokovic swung into full gear and proceeded he take the sixth game with an ace.
The American took the seventh game with an ace but it was his last hurray. The nine-time champion won the eighth game without dropping a point. The match lasted 2 hours and 20 minutes. For Novak Djokovic it is all about the records and the race for the Greatest Of All Time in the sport.