Novak Djokovic kept up his 100 per cent record in Australian Open semi-finals with a straight sets victory over Aslan Karatsev. The 27-year-old was competing in his first main draw of a Grand Slam and became the first man in the Open era to reach the semi-finals in his debut.
Wins over Diego Schwartzman, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Grigor Dimitrov set up a fascinating battle against Djokovic for a place in Sunday’s final.
Djokovic admitted to knowing little about Karatsev ahead of their match, but insisted he wouldn’t underestimate the world No 114.
The Serbian was still the strong favourite to advance though having never lost a semi-final at the Rod Laver Arena.
And he looked unstoppable in the first set as Karatsev had no answers to get past Djokovic’s incredible defence.
The world No 1 comfortably took a one-set lead and looked on course to quickly take the second after a double break.
But Karatsev began to show some fight and broke back before having a chance to level the set as Djokovic had several set points.
Djokovic held his nerve though to serve out for the set to give him a big lead and all-but kill off Karatsev’s hopes of an unlikely comeback.
The second set victory clearly meant a lot to Djokovic as well as he screamed in delight towards his box as well as having a momentary reaction to some boos from the crowd.