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Australian Open: Djokovic breezes past Paul, to battle Tsitsipas in final

NOVAK Djokovic has advanced to the final of the Australian Open as he continues his quest for a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam men’s singles title.

The Serb defeated Tommy Paul in straight sets of 7-5 6-1 6-2 in today’s semi-final to reach his 10th Australian Open final.

He will face Greece’s Stafanos Tsitsipas, who beat Russian 18th seed Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7/2) 6-4 6-7 (6/8) 6-3 in the first semi-final earlier today.

“It means everything at this stage of my career. I need that energy [from the fans] and I’m really thankful that I have enough gas in my legs to play at this level on one of the greatest tennis courts in the world,” the 35-year-old Djokovic said at the Rod Laver Arena moments after his victory.

He had battled with a hamstring injury in the earlier rounds but Djokovic says he is now in good shape.

“It’s great, and perfect and 100%. Yeah – we’ll see against Stefanos in two days!” he notes.

“Of course you are not as fresh as at the beginning of the tournament but we put in a lot of of hours in the off-season. I know what’s expected and I have been in so many positions in my career.

“It’s a great battle, with yourself and the opponent. Long rallies and you could feel the heavy legs in the first set but I was fortunate to hold my nerves. After that I was swinging through the ball more and I am just pleased to get through another final.”

Third seed Tsitsipas, 24, has another chance to earn his first Grand Slam title as he faces Djokovic on Sunday.

Tsitsipas lost to Djokovic in the 2021 French Open final and now has the chance to avenge that loss.

The Greek, who will become the world number one if he wins the title, was asked what he was thinking when the match with Khachanov went into a fourth set.

“I thought about how hard I’ve worked to get to this position,” he said.

“But if you stick around, dedicate yourself even more, and concentrate even more in the important moments it pays off.”

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