Djokovic matches Agassi’s Australian Open record
Djokovic talks to Barbara Schett
Maybe the results don’t say the real truth about the match-up on the court. There were some really close games.
I held my breaks when I broke his serve very well.
I was really solid and just made him play.
The best of five is a very long match, and it happens sometimes that you make double faults at important moments
It hasn’t happened much this week, but the last two weeks, I’ve been really strong in important moments.
Now it’s down to the last four guys, and I’m looking forward to it.
I always dreamed big and I dared to dream big. It’s kind of a way that i’ve been brought up. I’m really thankful for my parents
[I was able] to have a really wild imagination, that I could reach the top of one of the most important global sports, tennis.
Not many people were really believing that that could happen but I always had that kind of mindset.
Of course sometimes I have to pinch myself with everything that I’ve achieved, but I don’t have much time to go through the whole career, and analyse what I’ve done, as I still have things to achieve.
The Australian Open may have banned Russian flags
… but in amongst the spectators, a stark sign of support for Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Djokovic was unstoppable
As Simon Briggs mentioned previously, there was very little that Rublev was doing wrong. Djokovic acknowledged it too, and a three-set wipeout can only be understood through the Serbian’s own admission: his form is just too good.
If he had been presented with a greater disruptor – the barnstorming serve of Nick Kyrgios, say – perhaps he might have been thrown off course, but an in-form Rublev wasn’t enough to stop his marauding run.
He should be the runaway favourite to cinch the title this weekend.
Djokovic speaks to Jim Courier
On how he would rate today’s victory:
I would rank it as number 2, but very close to the performance of two nights ago.
I cannot be happier with my tennis. I’ve been playing solid form the back of the court.
I love playing here, definitely the most special court for me.
On the wind today:
It wasn’t as breezy around six o’clock.
For the people watching in the stands or on TV, you don’t see a difference but it makes a huge difference for us [for example] the ball toss is a little bit of a gamble.
But overall, the scoreline in the first two sets doesn’t speak the truth, the reality of the match.
Andrey is a great opponent, a great player, I have a great respect for him.
I think if I have to sum it up, all the important shots, I found my best tennis.
He went on to say that he was plugged up to just about every machine, and bio-feedback machine, to get his leg working:
It’s important to be smart and wise with the body, and it’s more important to recover and get ready for the next challenge [than practice tennis].
On his next opponent, Tommy Paul:
In the locker room we met, earlier today.
Obviously he doesn’t have much to lose. [This is his] first time in the semi-finals of a grand slam.
I know his coach, he has a great coach.
Djokovic rounded off the interview by wishing his physiotherapist happy birthday for today, and his mother happy birthday for yesterday. The crowd sings happy birthday to both of them, and Djokovic joins in.
Rublev looks utterly dejected
He’s applauded off the court, but he can’t wait to get out of there, and down the tunnel.
He rips off his sodden bandana, head bowed, as he retreats into the darkness.
GAME SET AND MATCH DJOKOVIC, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4
Djokovic opens with an ace, then another one. He looks up at the sky, arms aloft, as he wheels back to the service line. Bouncing the ball, he’s heckled loudly once again. The chair umpire calls for silence, which is roundly applauded, but the cries don’t stop as Djokovic prepares for his second serve.
Looking for a clean return, Rublev swipes with his backhand, but finds the net, setting up three match points for Djokovic.
The heckling grows louder and louder as Djokovic prepares. But he only needs one match point for seal his place in the semi-finals after Rublev nets his return once again.
A towering performance from the Serbian, handing him his 26th Australian Open victory.
Djokovic 6-1, 6-2, 5-4 Rublev* (*denotes server)
Rublev serves up two aces in quick succession, and forces Djokovic into a corner, where he streaks his return into the tramlines to reach 40-love.
Djokovic takes his revenge with a peppy smashed shot which zips past a frozen Rublev, stranded in mid-court. Things go from bad to worse for the Russian after he squanders his leave with a weak shot into the net.
But he rallies, and sends a springing forehand lilting past the Serbian. A hold, before Rublev collapses in his chair.
Djokovic* 6-1, 6-2, 5-3 Rublev (*denotes server)
After whipping an ace past Rublev, Djokovic plays a pearled forehand straight down the line which Rublev has no hope of chasing. He reaches 40-love expeditiously, and Rublev watches wide-eyed waiting for the final axe to fall, but receives a stay of execution: a double fault which lets him into the points.
Only a short stay, however, after Rublev is lobbed and mishits after some clever let play. Djokovic will look to break for the match.
More from Simon Briggs in Melbourne
Djokovic crosses himself and points to the sky after completing a hold with a lucky net-cord. His second-serve speed dropped abruptly in that game, and he snapped frustratedly at his player box, but he is still miles ahead on the scoreboard.
Djokovic 6-1, 6-2, 4-3 Rublev* (*denotes server)
Rublev revs up the crowd after playing a well-placed forehand straight, bypassing a straying Djokovic. But as Djokovic advances up the court, Rublev is forced further and further back, and undercooks his last return to land in the net.
He beats Djokovic with the smash that has the crowd on their feet, after pulling down a high ball of Djokovic’s, and the momentum on serve carries Rublev over the line handily.
Djokovic* 6-1, 6-2, 4-2 Rublev (*denotes server)
A powerful serve from Djokovic forces Rublev into a wacky return that only finds the net, but they level at 15-all after Djokovic double-faults his next attempt.
After offering decent chipped backhand replies to Djokovic’s groundstrokes, Rublev is wrongfooted when he attempts to play his scything forehand, and catches the ball at a faulty angle. It glances out past the chair umpire.
Djokovic wraps up the game with another sliver of luck, his flat shot just clipping the net cord and landing straight down the other side.
Djokovic 6-1, 6-2, 3-2 Rublev* (*denotes server)
Anything you can do logic sees Rublev open his service game with two aces too, and he streaks to 40-15 keen not to expend too much energy on serve. Djokovic gives him a scare at 40-30, but Rublev holds his nerve to see out the game and take his hold.
Djokovic* 6-1, 6-2, 3-1 Rublev (*denotes server)
An ace on the first serve, and one on the second, takes Djokovic to 30-love, but he lets Rublev join in on the points after hitting too deep off a forthright return from his opponent.
But with two more strong serves, Djokovic can hold effortlessly, and Rublev can watch his hopes of an important break at any point in this match retreat a little further into the distance.
Djokovic 6-1, 6-2, 2-1 Rublev* (*denotes server)
Rublev’s feathers are thoroughly ruffled, as he goes love-30 behind, grumpily questioning the position of the shot clock. But he holds his nerve, and makes it to 30-all.
Djokovic is sent this way and that by the Russian, but his terrific movement means he can make every shot before sending an unreturnable feather-light shot over the net for his next, inevitable, break point.
At deuce, Rublev waits and waits for a long, high lob which Djokovic sends in from the back of the court. He smashes it decisively, and Djokovic can’t ready himself accordingly for the return.
Rublev saves break point and takes a crucial hold.
More from Simon Briggs:
Djokovic indulges in a bit of passive-aggressive grandstanding after bringing up a break point. Strolls around eyeballing the fans behind him while holding up one fist and nodding determinedly. He doesn’t get the break though, and he has a little bit of a limp on as he heads back to his chair.
Djokovic* 6-1, 6-2, 2-0 Rublev (*denotes server)
Rublev climbs into the points early with the finest of shots, the ball just kissing the outside edge of the sideline. Djokovic serves up a quick ace to go ahead again, and completes his hold with very few dramatics, with Rublev’s hopes of an early break back utterly extinguished.
Third set: Djokovic 6-1, 6-2, 1-0 Rublev* (*denotes server)
Djokovic gets a spoonful of luck he certainly doesn’t need as his shot jinks the net-cord and lands, baffling, just inside the lines where Rublev has no hope of returning. In the face of two break points right off the bat, the Russian plays an inspired shot as he slides across the backline, that just passes Djokovic by as he runs up the court.
He cuts down hopes of breaking at the second time of asking to level things at deuce, batting the ball wildly as he grunts with effort. Djokovic cuts a much more composed character, gliding up to the net to pop his backhand over. Rublev can’t catch it cleanly, and nets.
Rublev meets Djokovic as closely as he can at his opponent’s advantage, but unthinkingly, Rublev hits long and hands Djokovic the early break.
Looking spent already, he drops his racquet in a sort of bemusement.
Simon Briggs on Rublev’s ‘mindboggling’ form
I can’t remember seeing anyone play as well as Rublev has tonight and still being so far behind on the scoreboard. He amped up his forehand to mindboggling levels of speed in that last game, accompanied by the guttural grunt that sounds like it belongs with a karate chop. Still no dice
Djokovic* 6-1, 6-2 Rublev (*denotes server)
Rublev will need to keep his cool, but that’s easier said than done as Djokovic gets off the mark with two aces in his bid to secure the second set.
Djokovic funks by sending his backhand down the line just out into the tramlines, giving Rublev a foothold in the points. But Rublev’s return of the next serve is weak and floppy, and jumps into the net.
Rublev isn’t beaten, however, and returns the next clean and flat, with a passing shot that leaves Djokovic rooted to the spot. He saves the next set point with another whippy forehand that bypasses his opponent, his 13th winner of the match.
“Come on Rubey!” is heard in scattered bursts as Djokovic prepares his serve, and Rublev wins the advantage on the attacking, swiping his forehand crosscourt in an inspired misdirection. But Djokovic can always find another level, and drags him back to deuce, then his advantage.
Rublev is clinging on, and resets them to deuce, but when he nets his next return, he lets out another shriek of frustration.
He has a final attempt to stay in the set, but Djokovic rounds off his advantage with an ace, and takes the second.
Djokovic 6-1, 5-2 Rublev* (*denotes server)
Determined not to waste time himself, Rublev gets off the mark at great speed, racing to 30-love. But his burgeoning confidence quickly goes into decline, as Djokovic holds firm, and just as quickly, makes it break point by simply outplaying the Russian.
Djokovic sees this through, much to Rublev’s unfolding fury.
“Bitch! Bitch!” he screams, in Russian.
Djokovic* 6-1, 4-2 Rublev (*denotes server)
Djokovic skitters his backhand into the net after a strong defensive play by Rublev, hunting for the immediate break back. After a thrilling rally, that has both players pinwheeling across the baseline, Djokovic unleashes a hatchet-like backhand onto Rublev’s, which he nets.
After a spell of perfect movement Djokovic, looking for another of those crafty baseline finishes, is caught out by Mother Nature, the wind lifting the ball at the last to send it out. He throws up his hands in bemused irritation, hair blown into his eyes as if adding insult to injury.
Rublev reaches break point, but Djokovic dogs him closely. But Rublev is first to the advantage after Djokovic looses his balance powering into a backhand, tipping backwards as the ball finds the net.
After a breakneck rally, Djokovic, huffing and grunting through the rally, slams a forehand past Rublev and unleashes a roar of triumph, pumping both fists. Firmly on the front foot, he further unnerves Rublev winning the advantage. Unbalanced now, Rublev responds by yelling at the chair umpire, I think calling out Djokovic’s time-wasting between points.
Djokovic is on fire. Djokovic aces, and the hold is complete.
More from Simon Briggs, bathed in a golden glow in Melbourne:
We’re into golden hour on Rod Laver Arena – the moment when the sky turns purple and the iPhones come out. Meanwhile a chant of “Nole” – Djokovic’s nickname – goes up from the Serbian contingent as he saves a break point.
Djokovic 6-1, 3-2 Rublev* (*denotes server)
Djokovic sinks his teeth into Rublev’s serve, pinging back a perfect forehand to land the ball in the smallest corner of the court straight down the line. His precision has been infuriating from Rublev, who has almost done enough 99 percent of the time. But it’s Djokovic that streaks to love-40.
Rublev can climb into the game after a defensive rally that puts Djokovic under pressure to mishit. But as the birds caw overhead at the Rod Laver Arena ominous, Djokovic has his first break of the second set.
Djokovic* 6-1, 2-2 Rublev (*denotes server)
Djokovic faults initially, and then aces Rublev on the second serve. He sends a high, lofted ball airily down just inside the line, which Rublev seems surprised to return, before smacking the ball past his opponent, 30-love.
Another ace, and then he wraps up the game to love after Rublev manfully springs for the return, but can’t send back the next forehand cleaning, lumping the ball into the net.
Djokovic 6-1, 1-2 Rublev* (*denotes server)
Rublev, looking to get on the front foot at 15-all, is too feisty with a deep shot which the close call camera tracks as out by the finest of margins. He follows up with an ace, before sending Djokovic deep behind the baseline. Djokovic streaks for the ball but can’t quite reach it, screaming with frustration, before taking out some more on his box.
Rublev holds the game handily.
Djokovic* 6-1, 1-1 Rublev (*denotes server)
Rublev’s forehand catches Djokovic again, and he attempts to play it with a too-loose forehand return that springs into the tramlines. The wind is picking up again, and has a hand in picking up a lofty shot of Djokovic’s that isn’t controlled enough to land in play.
An ace restores things somewhat at 30-all, Djokovic’s sixth of the match, but Rublev hasn’t given up on the break, getting to deuce with a terrific smash which Djokovic attempts to lob back. Rublev waits and waits for the ball to land for the return, but when the ball does hit the court, it’s no longer in play.
No more of a slouch on his second serve as his first, Djokovic is first to advantage, and he eventually has his hold after Rublev hits too deep. Another sizable opportunity for Rublev that goes unanswered.
Second set: Djokovic 6-1, 0-1 Rublev* (*denotes server)
An efficient opener by Rublev with the new balls, who gets off to the races with a game held to love.
Djokovic talks to chair umpire James Keothavong
During the break, Djokovic made an effort to make sure that the chair umpire is aware of the heckler, and ready to take action.
We catch him saying:
Please listen to what [the heckler is] saying.
He’s always saying things to provoke me.
Djokovic* 6-1 Rublev (*denotes server)
Djokovic opens with a cursory ace, but Rublev doesn’t let him run away with it, keeping the pressure up to meet his opponent’s firepower and level things at 30-all. Now, it’s the Russian that has break point, but Djokovic can force deuce with a towering serve right on the T that Rublev is powerless to hit anywhere but out.
Djokovic on his serve can be indomitable, and when Rublev has the advantage, Djokovic deploys the weapon once again to force Rublev out. Rublev sprints to the net on the next point, pushing Djokovic back, but he can meet Rublev’s smash before beating him with a sharply-angled passing shot that benefits from a little help from the net cord.
A quick, precise serve, and Djokovic has the opening set. That could be a major knock to Rublev’s confidence: he played consistently well, but has only come away with a solitary game.
More from Simon Briggs on that heckler:
A voice shouted out “Come on Andrey, send him home” during Rublev’s last service game, which prompted the huge bank of Serbian fans on my left to erupt in a collective boo. That’s probably not the sort of support that Rublev is looking for. Djokovic is very sensitive about the deportation saga. After stuffing Alex De Minaur for the loss of five games in the previous match, Djokovic made it clear that he remembered De Minaur’s comment from last year: “We are tired of that [deportation] circus.”
Djokovic 5-1 Rublev* (*denotes server)
Rublev sends in a deceptively-casual forehand that Djokovic responds to with the same ease and nets, before returning the favour with a tight backhand volley that Rublev is too deep to strike cleanly.
Djokovic openly decries a poor return of his which streaks way past the baseline to hand Rublev 30-all, but in no time at all, he’s back on top. Rublev has to dig himself with his service game, and does so which a sparky forehand which rifles past a misdirected Djokovic, for deuce.
Djokovic is ruffled early by a heckler who has been testing him “at every point!” He looks for support from the umpire. Djokovic has been dogged by hecklers throughout this competition, but it’s early fury today from the record title-winner.
He rallies, and reaches his third break point opportunity. When Rublev thwarts him, Djokovic reaches break point once again. The pattern repeats itself, Rublev clinging on for dear life, as Djokovic reaches his fourth, his fifth.
Djokovic gets his double break with a battered forehand, hit again and again at Rublev forced into a corner, until he finally hits the ball way out of court.
Djokovic* 4-1 Rublev (*denotes server)
Firmly in control, Djokovic opens up with an ace, and skips to 30-love. But Rublev takes a chance with a sterling return that Djokovic is too quick to respond to, his effort landing in the net. He nets again, forced too deep by Rublev, which levels things.
But his text serve is hit with textbook accuracy and aces Rublev, chains clanking around his neck as he awaits the next. That’s an ace too, and a clean enough hold for Djokovic.
Djokovic 3-1 Rublev* (*denotes server)
During the break, the front row of Djokovic’s box craned over the edge to speak to him hurriedly. Whatever intel he gleaned, he takes the first point off Rublev, but the Russian comes back to get into the points with a well-controlled, streaking forehand, impressive in the face of the wind.
Rublev lets Djokovic in again at 40-30, and the Serbian gets to deuce with another barely-believable deep forehand which only just meets the baseline. A whippy serve that yields an unfocused return puts Rublev ahead, but only for a moment: Djokovic’s next return is so clean and commanding, Rublev falters.
Djokovic has his second break-point of the match, and this time, he makes good on it. A crucial opportunity at 40-15 squandered by Rublev.
Simon Briggs is at the Rod Laver Arena
Good evening from Melbourne. Conditions here are quite cool and there’s a gusting, inconsistent breeze that becomes quite strong at times. It’s not a bad evening for Rublev, whose flat hitting style doesn’t require too much spin or bounce (both more easily available in warmer weather). Or it wouldn’t be, if he was playing anyone but the King of Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic* 2-1 Rublev (*denotes server)
Another double fault for Djokovic, this time to bring Rublev in at 30-15, but he doesn’t let the wobble weaken his mettle, forcing Rublev into a shaky return with that all-too-dominant serve.
He wins the game handily, with minimal fuss.
Djokovic 1-1 Rublev* (*denotes server)
As if to reassure the number-four seed, Rublev matches him with an opening double fault. The point that follows is a mind-bendingly intense rally, with Djokovic directing the majority of the 25 shots, first with a confident backhand, then forehand. But Rublev holds his own, and wins the point with a springing forehand.
Rublev’s forehand can prove unmatchable, and it gets him ahead now, 40-15. But when he finds the net, there’s a little cause for concern: Rublev’s second serve is much less of a weapon, and Djokovic deals with it cleanly. Djokovic reaches deuce with an inch-perfect, dramatic-looking lob, which Rublev streaks to return but can only do so backwards, and clumsily. He can scarcely believe Djokovic’s shot landed on the right side of the baseline.
With Djokovic at advantage, Rublev claws back deuce with a steely backhand-forehand combination. He goes ahead after Djokovic mishits at the back of the court, and avoids the early break after his opponent plays too quickly, wildly sending the ball out to the stands.
Djokovic* 1-0 Rublev (*denotes server)
Djokovic opens his service with a double fault, which sends a murmur of surprise around the court. Only his 13th double fault of the tournament, and an inauspicious way to open up a quarter-final. But Djokovic gets off the mark moments later, after Rublev underhits his return into the net.
He reasserts parity with a scything ace, then forces Rublev to hit too deep off the back of a 197kph serve. But at 40-15, Rublev serves up a whip-smart forehand that bypasses Djokovic entirely.
But when drawn into the match’s first rally, Rublev under pressure finds the net.
Djokovic wins the toss
He elects to serve, and the pair begin their warm-ups. A gentle, but persistent, breeze, ruffles their shirts, Rublev’s curls, pinned back with an electric blue headband.
Hovering just off court
On his own, Rublev is pacing neatly back and forth, whereas Djokovic is nowhere to be seen; he’s all too happy to let his opponent wait for him.
Eventually, Djokovic emerges, and stalks Rublev, clad in electric blue, down the tunnel. The Russian is first to step out, and roundly applauded, but nothing can match the cheers and excitement for Djokovic, so popular once again at this competition.
Can Rublev stop a player that seems unstoppable?
One Nick Kyrgios, recovering from knee surgery, shared his thoughts whilst watching Djokovic take on his compatriot De Minaur. Well, quite.
Karen Khachanov sparks political row at the Australian Open
After wrapping up his quarter-final match against a retiring Sebastian Korda, Khachanov wrote ‘Atrsakh stay strong!’ on a TV camera, in solidarity with Armenian protests for independence in the embattled Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“I have Armenian roots,” said Khachanov on Tuesday, after defeating Sebastian Korda to move into the semi-finals. “From my father’s side, from my grandfather’s side, even from my mum’s side. To be honest, I don’t want to go deeper than that. I just wanted to show strength and support to my people.”
Read more in Simon Brigg’s report here.
Elsewhere in the men’s quarter-finals
Yesterday, Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Jiri Lehecka, 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-4, and Karen Khachanov swiped victory in three sets after Sebastian Korda retired in the third set.
This morning, Ben Shelton fell to compatriot Tommy Paul in a tightly-contested match which went to four sets; their all-American battle, and Korda’s inclusion, made this the first grand-slam quarter-finals featuring three US men for the first time in 18 years.
One step closer to his 10th title Down Under?
Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s live coverage of the fourth Australian Open men’s quarter-final, which sees Novak Djokovic face number-five seed Andrey Rublev at the Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic already holds the record for the most Australian Open wins, but has a statement-making tenth win in his sights, having cruised through the draw to banish soured memories of last year’s deportation spectacle. His blistering 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 victory over home favourite Alex De Minaur en route to today’s match sets him up as the most-likely contender, and although there were early doubts over his fitness – Djokovic has played through the competition with heavy strapping on his left thigh – he said in his on-court interview after beating De Minaur that he felt ‘great’.
“I didn’t feel anything today,” Djokovic said. “Today was great. I keep on going, I don’t want to celebrate too early. I was feeling really good in the first match, second one not so great, so I know things can change really quickly, I don’t take anything for granted.”
In a later Serbian press conference, he blasted those who had doubted that he was legitimately injured, adding that he was the only player subjected to these kind of rumours.
“Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.”
Rublev, too, has had a confident journey thus far in Melbourne, his greatest test coming in his fourth-round match against Holger Rune which went to five sets, but Rublev clinched the victory in time, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (tiebreak 11-9).
Seeded only one place below Djokovic at this year’s competition, the Russian player – competing under a neutral flag – has beaten Djokovic once during their previous three encounters.
Stick with us as we bring you all the build-up before the first serve at approximately 8.30am UK time.