Djokovic celebrates a point during the game against Karatsev in Melbourne.JAIMI JOY / Reuters
Novak Djokovic is exactly where he wanted. Not how he wanted, since he has had problems on the right side since the third round, but much better than he expected a few days ago, when he hinted that he could leave the tournament. The 33-year-old Serbian ended the beautiful adventure of Russian Aslan Karatsev in the Australian major (6-3, 6-4 and 6-2, in 1h 53m) and landed in his ninth final in Melbourne, a scenario that has seen being crowned eight times. More than anyone, it is your clue. Now he will wait eating popcorn, so he says, to know who he will face on Sunday: Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas, summoned this Friday (9.30, Eurosport).
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The number one suffered in the third season of the tournament against Taylor Fritz, when he felt the first punctures ; later he competed in the trantran against Milos Raonic and then had to overcome several entanglements against Sascha Zverev ; And this Thursday, with the succulent prize of the final ahead, he rose in the duel against the Nobel Prize winner Katsarev, who until now had not seen himself in a similar circumstance, since for the first time in the Open Era, since 68, a player from the qualifying phase managed to climb to the semifinals. The Russian showed his face. But it was not enough. At Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic is a lot of Djokovic.
“I felt incredibly good, I had no discomfort. Today I felt the ball, "said Nole in the interview with Jim Courier, once a number one. As he did in the previous rounds, the Balkan stayed in the service (17 aces ) to break up the willful Katsarev, who wore his iron right with several slaps that started the applause of the assistants in the center, again with the public . However, the Serbian demanded him and forced him from start to finish, and the Russian – 114th in the ATP and who entered the tournament with only three victories in the elite – drowned going to the limit.
Djokovic controlled the situation from end to end tail, appeasing Katsarev's rebellion in the two small knots that the encounter had. In the second quarter, the Russian managed to cut from 5-2 to 5-4 and have two break options, after saving another two from losing the set, but Nole's experience deprived him of putting pepper in the game. Already in the third, both exchanged a couple of slaps, but the one from Belgrade gave an acceleration when and how he wanted. He sealed with two direct service points and in the talk with Courier he slipped who generates more concern for Sunday.
"What Stefanos did against Rafa was incredible, but Medvedev is definitely the man of the last months," he said, alluding to to the series of 19 consecutive victories that the Muscovite has linked from Paris-Bercy. Djokovic does not forget that the Russian already played a one-to-one final with Nadal, in New York two years ago, nor does he forget that he performs like a fish in water on the fastest surfaces, be it Bercy, the Masters or this from Melbourne. With two days of rest ahead of him, he will turn on the television and analyze. He lacks a single rung to achieve his 18th big and cut with Nadal (20) and Federer (20).
Australian Open: results (Thursday 18) and order of play (Friday 19) .