Novak Djokovic is feeling optimistic ahead of his all-important semi-final Australian Open clash against Tommy Paul on Friday. The Serbian defeated Alex de Minaur in straight sets in the fourth quarter and then dominated Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals to once again win in straight sets.
Djokovic has dropped only 12 games in the last two matches against strong opponents and he has definitely grown in confidence. It is well known that Djokovic has been struggling with his hamstring injury and these two convincing wins have been perfect for him as he has played his A-game on the court.
“I can’t really say that this is as confident that I ever felt because I’ve had some incredible seasons,” said Djokovic after racing to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 quarter-final win against Rublev. “[Some incredible] years here at the Australian Open, some matches that are really unforgettable for me. [It is] tough to compare because I’ve been fortunate to really live through a lot of success at the Australian Open.
“But [the] last two matches, playing against two guys that are really good players, in-form players, to beat them dominantly in three sets… That is definitely something that I want in this moment. Something that sends a message to all my opponents remaining in the draw.”
Djokovic is now 10-0 after winning against Rublev in 2023 and he is only two matches away from winning his 10th Australian Open title.
“With this kind of game, of course, the confidence level rises… I feel good on the court, better and better as the tournament progresses,” said Djokovic. “I’ve been in this situation so many times in my life, in my career, [and] never lost a semi-final at the Australian Open. Hopefully, that will stay the same.
“So far, I have a perfect score on Australian hard courts [this year], in Adelaide and here. I’ve been playing better and better. I couldn’t ask for a better situation to be in at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Djokovic will face Tommy Paul for the first time on the tour and feels the American will be a tough opponent as he has nothing to lose.
“I know how he plays,” said Djokovic of the 25-year-old Paul. “I never faced him on the court, [but] he’s been around for a few years. I watched him play quite a bit, especially during this tournament. He’s been playing probably tennis of his life.
“[He is a] very explosive, very dynamic player. Quick, very solid backhand. Likes to step in, and dictate the point with the forehand. Great, great service motion… [A] very complete player. He’s got a coach [Brad Stine] that has been around with some top players for many years.
“[It is a] first [Grand Slam] semi-final for him, so of course he doesn’t have much to lose. I’m sure he’s going to go out trying to play his best tennis.”