World No 5 Novak Djokovic had an easy outing on Wednesday as he defeated Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the Australian Open semifinal against Tommy Paul.
The veteran Serbian star just needed one match point in a one-sided encounter against his 25-year-old Russian rival, who is ranked sixth in the world.
In case, Djokovic wins the Australian Open for 10th time, he will equal Rafael Nadal’s record of lifting the Grand Slams 22 times. Roger Federer, who has retired and is considered as the all-time great by many, has 20 titles.
Earlier in the day, Paul – in an all-American Australian Open quarterfinal – defeated his younger rival Ben Shelton A 7-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, as the two first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalists clashed in Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday.
“Making it to the second weekend of a Slam, that’s everyone’s dream when they start playing tennis,” World No 35 Paul said after advancing to his first major semi-final. “So I can’t believe I’m here right now.”
After three Americans reached the Melbourne quarterfinals for the first time since 2000, Paul is the first man from the US to reach the semis since Andy Roddick in 2009 and the third active American to advance to the last four of a Grand Slam (John Isner, Frances Tiafoe). The matchup between Paul and Shelton was the first all-American major quarterfinal since the 2007 Australian Open.
“I’m really happy to get through that match,” Paul added in his on-court interview. “There wasn’t too much rhythm in the match, but Ben’s a very tough player to play against and he’s going to be in many more matches like this, so I think everyone should be really excited for that kid.”
Paul has moved up 16 spots to No 19 in the ATP Live Rankings this week, setting himself up to break into the Top 20 for the first time. He would reach the Top 10 if he can win his maiden Grand Slam title in Melbourne.
By advancing to the quarters in his Australian Open debut, Shelton rocketed 46 places up the ATP Live Rankings to No. 43. He will be one of 10 Americans in the Top 50 next Monday.
On Tuesday, Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas beat 71st ranked Jiri Lehecka 6-3, 7-6, 6-4 on Tuesday to reach the Australian Open semifinal where he will meet Karen Khachanov.
After the match, the Greek star, who is looking for his first Grand Slam, said, “It felt different this time from any other match, but the most important thing was that I found a solution.”
“It was a very difficult three-setter, one of the most difficult ones that I’ve had so far in the competition. I think Jiri had a very good tournament. He’s someone who has started playing well recently and I wish him the very best for the future.”
Tsitsipas has now qualified for the Australian Open semifinal for the fourth time after his previous failures to reach the final at the Melbourne Park in 2019, 2021 and 2022. The closest he has come to a Grand Slam was at the French Open in 2021 after an epic final against Novak Djokovic when he lost the final three sets against the Serbian after winning the first two in an epic the five setter.
He will now meet Karen Khachanov – the 18th seed Russian – who was the winner against Sebastian Korda of the US, as the American retired hurt, ending the young American’s dream of emulating his father Petr’s 1998 title run. However, Khachanov had already won two sets and was leading the third 3-0 by that time.