NAfter his noisy expulsion from Australia, tennis star Novak Djokovic is aiming for his comeback in February at the ATP tournament in Dubai. The world number one from Serbia is on the entry list for the 500 tournament (February 21 to 26), which he has already won five times. In Dubai, a corona vaccination is not mandatory for entry.
Djokovic had missed the current Australian Open after a defeat in a federal court. The judges had rejected the objection of the world number one against the cancellation of his visa. The 20-time Grand Slam winner was unvaccinated and entered the country with a medical exemption. What Djokovic’s season planning looks like after the tournament in Dubai is still completely open. A corona vaccination is a prerequisite for traveling to the Masters tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami.
Around half a year after the French Open final, which was just lost, only one victory separates the Greek top player Stefanos Tsitsipas from the second Grand Slam final. At the Australian Open, the 23-year-old showed the Italian tennis talent Jannik Sinner the limits with an impressive performance thanks to an increase in performance. Under the closed roof of the Rod Laver Arena, Tsitsipas won the quarterfinal duel on Wednesday after a short break in rain 6: 3, 6: 4, 6: 2 and made it into the semifinals in Melbourne for the third time.
“I’m very happy with how I served and used my tactics. Even though I’m in the semifinals, that’s just the beginning. Let’s do it,” said Tsitsipas in the winner’s interview. On Friday, the Greeks will have to reach the final of the first Grand Slam tournament of the season for the first time against the Russian US Open winner Daniil Medvedev or the Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. The other semi-final is contested by 20-time Grand Slam tournament winner Rafael Nadal and Italian Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini.
In the women’s semifinals on Thursday, the focus is on Australian hopeful and world number one Ashleigh Barty, who meets former US Open finalist Madison Keys from the US. In addition, the Polish top ten player Iga Swiatek and Keys’ compatriot Danielle Collins face off.
The 2020 French Open winner, Swiatek, ended the surprising winning streak of Estonian Kaia Kanepi on Wednesday with the hard-fought 4: 6, 7: 6 (7: 2), 6: 3. Collins progressed thanks to a 7-5, 6-1 win over France’s Alizé Cornet. Three years ago, Collins made his breakthrough in Melbourne by reaching the semi-finals. This time, the semi-finals mean a lot to the 28-year-old after major health problems last year.
Tsitsipas performed uncompromisingly against the youngster Sinner and always had the better answer ready against the tenth in the world rankings. It started to rain at the beginning of the second set, the two rivals fled under the sun protection of their bench and tried to stay focused. While the roof closed bit by bit, hard-working ball kids and helpers knelt on the hard court and wiped against the drops with towels.
Tsitsipas had just made the break to make it 2-1 and, like in the first round, took an early lead. It took about ten minutes before the players picked up their rackets again to the applause of the spectators and after a three-minute warm-up the game continued. Unlike two days earlier in the round of 16 over five sets against the American challenger Taylor Fritz, Tsitsipas saved his strength this time. In the third period, too, the favorite took the lead early on.
In June 2021, in the final of the French Open, it had long looked as if Tsitsipas could shock top star Djokovic. But the Serbian world number one prevented the coup after two lost sets. In Melbourne, the absence of record champion Djokovic gives his competitors a bigger chance this time.
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