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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday January 25, 2023

 
Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic put forth a blistering performance, defeating Andrey Rublev for his 26th consecutive Australian Open win.

Photo Source: Getty

As the finish line nears, during the second week of the 2023 Australian Open, the white-hot intensity of Novak Djokovic is – predictably – hitting the next level.

No longer inhibited by the hamstring injury that was the talk of the tennis world for several days, Djokovic has shifted gears and is now speeding towards his ultimate goal: a tenth Australian Open title and his 22nd at the Grand Slams.

Tennis Express

He’s never failed from here before.

Incredulously, Djokovic is 18-0 in Melbourne once he’s reached the semifinals, and he ensured himself a berth in the last four with another scintillating performance on Wednesday, as he blitzed Russia’s Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 behind an all-court barrage that left Rublev cursing his fate as he struggled – and failed – to make any kind of a dent in Djokovic’s armor.

With the triumph, the nine-time champion stretches his Australian Open winning streak to 26, which ties him with Andre Agassi on the all-time list for the tournament’s longest winning streak. He can break it on Friday when he faces American Tommy Paul in the semifinals.

Was it Djokovic’s best performance of the tournament thus far?

“I would rank it is number two, but very close to the performance of two nights ago,” he told the crowd after the match.

Nevertheless, the lopsided victory put a wide smile on Djokovic’s face.

“I cannot be happier with my tennis, honestly," he said. "I've been playing very solid from the back of the court and I really love playing in these conditions, in this court. I've said many times, I love playing here. Definitely a special court for me.”

Is there anybody better than Djokovic at making world-class players look lost on a tennis court? Rublev, normally so adept at finding his forehand after striking his powerful serve to great effect, was unable to play his own brand of tennis on Wednesday, and instead was forced to spend two hours living by Djokovic’s terms. Never the most adaptable or versatile player, the No.5 seed struggled mightily to find any kind of comfort against Djokovic, who was impenetrable, immovable and at ease throughout.

The tape on the hamstring was still there, but Djokovic was less bothered by the injury that had plagued him during week one. He moved explosively, blanketed the court, and didn’t suffer any letdowns.

He said that he’s spent the last 10 days strapped to machines, and hasn’t been practicing at all on his days off.

“To be honest, I've been connected to machines more than I have been connected to anybody else – my bed or anything else really – in the days off,” he said. "I’ve tried about any biofeedback machine there is in this planet in order to get my leg ready, and it worked. I'm going to keep going.

“I miss tennis on the days off but at the same time, I think it's important to be smart and wise with the body in this particular circumstances where it's more important to recover and get ready for next challenge.”

Djokovic continues his domination at Melbourne, where he is 87-8 lifetime. He's been dominant gainst the Top-10 as well, where he has won 22 of 23 matches in Melbourne, and ten in succession overall. Djokovic’s last loss against the Top-10 came against Rafael Nadal at Roland-Garros last year.

The 21-time major champion reaches his 44th Grand Slam semifinal overall, which places him just two behind Roger Federer, and he has won 39 straight on Australian soil.

The records, the quality of Djokovic's tennis, the slowly but surely healing hamstring – they all point to more history being made by Djokovic in the days to come.

Djokovic himself is taking it one step at a time. He looked ahead to his next match with confidence, telling the crowd: “If I play this way, think I have a good chance to go through.”

 

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