The 2021 Australian Open is now down to the semi-final stage, with some of the top names in both the men’s and women’s draws still in the running to win the first Grand Slam of the season.
However, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams will have to overcome some tough opponents if they are to make it back to the final in Melbourne. Djokovic must face Russian Aslan Karatsev, who has made a historic run to the semis, while Williams will meet old foe Naomi Osaka once more.
Elsewhere, women’s world No. 1 – Australia’s own Ashleigh Barty – crashed out yet again in her home Grand Slam.
Read on below as SBOTOP lists down all the latest happenings in the Australian Open tennis tournament.
Djokovic faces Cinderella story Karatsev
Novak Djokovic is back in the semi-finals of the Australian Open. The defending Aussie Open champion came from a set down to overcome six-seed Alexander Zverev in four sets, 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(6) in the quarters.
Djokovic has been dealing with an abdominal injury he suffered in his third-round win over Taylor Fritz, but he once again gutted through the pain — particularly in the third set, where he came back from 4-1 down — to take down the talented German.
“After the tiebreak I felt like I started moving better, I started serving better and ended up with more aces than him which is a miracle against someone like Sacha,” Djokovic said.
“There were lots of nerves out there, emotionally I feel a little drained, it was a great battle, tough luck to Sacha. We pushed ourselves to the limits.”
Djokovic’s win sets up a fascinating semi-final matchup with Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev. The world No. 114 made massive Australian Open 2021 news as he became the first man in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals in his Grand Slam debut.
Karatsev beat Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals and also overcame Diego Schwartzman and Felix Auger Aliassime en route to the last four.
However, the Australian Open 2021 betting odds will be heavily against Karatsev as he takes on Djokovic, who is a perfect 8-of-8 in his career in Aussie Open semi-finals.
Serena and Osaka meet again
Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka are set to meet again in a Grand Slam stage with a spot in the final on the line.
The two top women’s players booked their tickets to the semis with easy straight-sets wins. Williams looked impressive as she made short work of world No. 2 Simona Halep, 6-3 6-3. Meanwhile, Osaka eased past Su-Wei Hsieh, 6-2 6-2.
This will be the fifth head-to-head meeting between the two tennis superstars. Osaka won their first two matches, including their infamous US Open final in 2018. Osaka won in straight sets to claim her first career Grand Slam title, but Serena stole the headlines following her outburst at the umpire.
Since that match, Williams has gone on to win her next two encounters with Osaka. That includes a tough three-set win in the semi-finals of this year’s Adelaide International Tennis Tournament, which was a warm-up event for the Aussie Open.
The 39-year-old Williams is aiming to win her record-extending eighth Australian Open title during the Open Era and her first since 2017. Meanwhile, Osaka is eyeing her second title in Australia after winning in 2019.
Top-seeded Barty falls short again
Fans will be allowed back in the stands to watch the Australian Open semi-finals and finals after the lifting of the statewide lockdown.
However, Aussie fans will no longer be able to cheer for their hometown hero, world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, who crashed out of the tournament after her quarter-final matchup with 25th-seeded Karolina Muchova.
Barty won the first set with ease, but Muchova stormed back to take the next two sets and the match, 1-6 6-3 6-2.
“I started feeling a bit lost,” Muchova said. “Ash started very good. She played almost like no mistakes; it was very tough. I was a bit lost on the court and my head was spinning, so I took a break. And it helped me.”
The 24-year-old Barty has now gone out in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in two of the last three years and was knocked out in the semi-finals last year.
Meanwhile, Muchova will meet American Jennifer Brady, who came from behind to beat compatriot Jessica Pegula, 4-6 6-2 6-1, in the other women’s semi-final.
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