Defending and eight times Australian Open champion, Novak Djokovic defeated Germany’s Alexander Zverev to reach his ninth AO semi-final on Tuesday. The Rod Laver Arena witnessed an intense clash where the World No. 1 player smashed his racquet after trailing in the third set. The Serbian ace went on to win the quarter-final clash 6-7(6) 6-2 6-4 7-6(6) after gruelling hard.
Djokovic will take on Russia’s Aslan Karatsev in the semifinals. The unpredictable Karatsev continued his dream run with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win against injured Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, in the other quarter-final.
Djokovic, who is nursing an abdominal problem, conceded the first set but made a brilliant recovery in the fixture that lasted for three hours and 30 minutes. Zverev started all guns blazing, eventually winning the first set in a tie-breaker.
The next two sets belonged to Djokovic, who exhibited tremendous mental strength to get the better of the 23-year-old German. Zverev was still alive and kicking after grabbing the lead in the fourth set.
Djokovic however saved nine of 12 breakpoints. It included a set point at 5-6 in the fourth set, which he clinched by smashing an ace.
Winning the sixth head-to-head to game out of 8 ATP matches against Zverev, Djokovic expressed, “Down to the very last shot, it was anybody’s match. A lot of nerves and pressure out there. Emotionally I feel drained,” revealed the relieved top seed.”