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Australian Open 2021 Highlights: Novak Djokovic through to ninth final; Jennifer Brady sets up Naomi Osaka clash

Australian Open 2021 Semi finals: Novak Djokovic will look to stay on track for an 18th Grand Slam title, while Serena Williams has the formidable figure of Naomi Osaka blocking her path to a record-equalling 24th when the Australian Open semi-finals begin.

FP Sports February 18, 2021 07:37:41 IST
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Australian Open 2021 Highlights: Novak Djokovic through to ninth final; Jennifer Brady sets up Naomi Osaka clash

Serena Williams will take on Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semi-finals, while Novak Djokovic will be up against Aslan Karatsev. AP

Highlights

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Feb 18, 2021 - 16:29 (IST)

That's it for our coverage from Australia Open today. A quick recap on the action in case you're just joining us (or here for the highlights): Naomi Osaka beat Serena Williams in straight sets; Jennifer Brady and Karolina Muchova played out a dramatic final game but it was the former who prevailed. In the first men's singles match, Novak Djokovic remained unbeaten in the semis of the Australian Open and moved into his ninth final at Melbourne Park. He stopped the high flying Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev but faced tough resistance in the first set and in closing out the second set. Join us tomorrow to find out who Djokovic will face: Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas. Until tomorrow, goodbye!

Feb 18, 2021 - 16:26 (IST)

Classy from Novak Djokovic on Aslan Karatsev who will rise to top-50 in the rankings on Monday

Feb 18, 2021 - 16:16 (IST)

Novak Djokovic speaking to Jim Courier courtside:

"We need to give Aslan a hand. Huge congratulations to him, he reached the semis on his Grand Slam debut, I don't think that's happened in the history of tennis."

"This is the best I've felt in the tournament, I felt great and I felt like I could really swing through the ball without pain. It came at the right time."

"I have two days now, so I'll see how I'm training after evaluating everything with my team. Recovery is key, but I will probably train on one of these days so I can be prepared for the most important match of the Australian Open."

"I watched Tsitsipas' win over Nadal, Stefanos did so well to hang in there. Rafa was dominating, but somehow, Stefanos turned it around. It was a high quality match, probably the highest level that we've seen in this tournament. Speaking of a high level, Medvedev has been playing at a really high levels for months. Both of these players have been playing well, so I'll be sitting there with popcorn and watching them fight it out."

Feb 18, 2021 - 16:12 (IST)

A ninth Australian Open final (and title?) beckons for Novak Djokovic

Feb 18, 2021 - 16:11 (IST)

Novak Djokovic in semi-finals:

9-0 at Australian Open

14-1 in last 15 Grand Slams (only loss to Dominic Thiem at 2019 French Open)

28-11 overall in majors

Feb 18, 2021 - 16:10 (IST)

GAME, SET, MATCH NOVAK DJOKOVIC

ACE! ACE! Novak Djokovic is into the Australian Open final with a comfortable finish in the end. Don't let the 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 socreline fool you into thinking that was easy for Novak. It was anything but thanks to great hitting from Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev.

Feb 18, 2021 - 16:07 (IST)

Novak Djokovic* 6-3, 6-4, 5-2 Aslan Karatsev (* denotes next server)

DOUBLE BREAK! Karatsev goes for broke with the backhand on 30-30. Has nothing to lose it seems now. Misses the sideline and Djokovic has a chance to go two breaks up. Balls coming at him quickly now and the deep zipper from Djokovic sees Karatsev miss. 

Feb 18, 2021 - 15:58 (IST)

Novak Djokovic* 6-3, 6-4, 3-2 Aslan Karatsev (* denotes next server)

BREAK BACK! Novak Djokovic is once again in the ascendency. What incredible depth in his groundstrokes and Karatsev gets couple back before he buckles. Nets his backhand and Djokovic has two break points. Makes it count! Moves Karatsev side-to-side and the Russian, on the stretch, hits his forehand into the net. "No respite," says the commentator and that is an accurate assessment for Djokovic matches

Feb 18, 2021 - 15:52 (IST)

Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-4, 2-2 Aslan Karatsev* (* denotes next server)

Out of nowhere, Karatsev ups the intensity level and Djokovic is struggling to keep up. Two break points for the Russian. Short-ish ball and Karatsev thrashes it with a forehand winner. An absolute beating for the fluffy balls!

Feb 18, 2021 - 15:45 (IST)

Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-4, 2-0 Aslan Karatsev* (* denotes next server)

No drama on this Novak Djokovic serve. He holds after dropping a point, looks up at his box and clenches his fist. The winning line is in sights!

Preview: Novak Djokovic will look to stay on track for an 18th Grand Slam title, while Serena Williams has the formidable figure of Naomi Osaka blocking her path to a record-equalling 24th when the Australian Open semi-finals begin on Thursday.

Around 7,500 fans will be back on a reduced capacity Rod Laver Arena, after a five-day state coronavirus lockdown, but Djokovic will be in unknown territory in the night match against Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev, who he has never played before.

The world number one, who has been hampered by an abdominal injury, confessed he had not seen much of the tournament's surprise semi-finalist -- who has already seen off three seeds -- but that he wouldn't take the world number 114 lightly.

"He's impressed a lot of people with his movement and firepower from the baseline," said Djokovic of Karatsev.

Australian Open 2021 Highlights Novak Djokovic through to ninth final Jennifer Brady sets up Naomi Osaka clash

Serena Williams will take on Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semi-finals, while Novak Djokovic will be up against Aslan Karatsev. AP

"He doesn't have anything to lose, really. He's motivated."

Karatsev, who is guaranteed to rise into the world's top 50, is the first man in the Open era to reach a semi-final on his Grand Slam debut, and just the second qualifier to do so at the Australian Open after Bob Giltinan in 1977.

Earlier Williams, the 10th seed, opens proceedings on Rod Laver against Osaka aiming to keep alive her dream of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam crown, wary of again falling victim to the Japanese superstar who beat her in the 2018 US Open final.

The winner will play for the championship on Saturday against either Czech 25th seed Karolina Muchova or American 22nd seed Jennifer Brady, who clash in the second semi-final on Melbourne Park's main show court.

'Bring my A-game'

Williams, 39, sits one behind Margaret Court's elusive all-time mark of 24 majors after losing four Slam finals since her 2017 victory at Melbourne Park while pregnant.

One of those was the controversial 2018 US Open final defeat to Osaka, where the American star was docked a point and a game after losing her temper when warned about coaching.

Osaka was booed by some fans and was in tears during the awards ceremony, later calling what should have been her moment of glory "a little bittersweet".

Williams said both players had reached "closure" on the painful moment, which has seen them inextricably linked ever since.

They have played each other just once since that New York meeting, in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Rogers Cup in Toronto which Williams won in straight sets.

Brady will face Muchova in the other semi-final, with a maiden Slam final guaranteed for one of them.

Muchova, fresh from her upset of top-ranked Ashleigh Barty on Wednesday, said she had noted Brady's "very big strokes" in their one previous meeting, when she beat the American in Prague in 2019.

"So definitely going to be a tough battle," she said of Brady, who toppled compatriot Jessica Pegula to make her second major semi-final after last year's US Open.

"I think I will have to bring my A-game to play with her because she is really playing amazing matches, having a good season."

With inputs from AFP.

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