Novak Djokovic is into a ninth Australian Open final after ending the fairytale run of Russian journeyman Aslan Karatsev with a 6-3 6-4 6-2 win.
Djokovic remains undefeated at the event when reaching the semi-finals at Melbourne Park and will take on either fourth seed Daniil Medvedev or fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final.
For the opening set and a half, Djokovic made just one unforced error and, while he’d eventually begin to add to that tally, he never looked truly in jeopardy against a spirited but ultimately outmatched Karatsev.
Such was Djokovic’s form and dedication to his preparation that former world number one Jim Courier said he could well play into his 40s and potentially overtake Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slam singles titles.
“The way that he takes care of every little detail in his career reminds me a lot of someone we hear so much about in the United States and I know he’s known here, Tom Brady, the quarterback who in his 40s just won a seventh Super Bowl and he’s focused on his diets, workouts and flexibility in the same way Novak is,” Courier said on Channel Nine.
“I think Novak draws inspiration from that and sees an opportunity to have a long career like Roger’s having. Pretty easy to imagine Novak at 39 years of age making the semifinals of this tournament, if not winning it unless he has a catastrophic injury.”
Despite the loss, Karatsev is set to reap the rewards of his semi-final run – the world No.114, will jump into the top 50 when rankings are updated.
As Djokovic let rip a primal roar to the crowd during the match, commentators noted how important crowds were for the Serbian.
“He needs crowds there. Whether they’re going for him or against him, he uses the energy,” Todd Woodbridge said, something Courier agreed with.
“They are like an energy source for him. It is really interesting and so often the crowd because he is the favourite in almost every match he’s going to play, he’s number one in the world and he’s the favourite on paper but not always the fan favourite.”
AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2021 – DAY 11 – ORDER OF PLAY
Rod Laver Arena
Sam Stosur (AUS) / Matthew Ebden (AUS) def Hayley Carter (USA) / Sander Gille (BEL) 6-3 6-2
Not before 2pm
Naomi Osaka (JPN)  def Serena Williams (USA)  6-3 6-4.
Jennifer Brady (USA)  def Karolina Muchova (CZE)  6-4 3-6 6-4
Not before 7:30pm
Novak Djokovic (SRB)  def Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-3 6-4 6-2