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Novak Djokovic sets up Australian Open final with Stefanos Tsitsipas

Novak Djokovic sets up Australian Open final with Stefanos Tsitsipas
© Reuters
Novak Djokovic overcomes a sticky start to beat Tommy Paul and advance to the final of the Australian Open, where he will take on Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Novak Djokovic overcame an error-strewn start to defeat the USA's Tommy Paul and advance to his 10th Australian Open final, where he will meet Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The nine-time champion prevailed 7-5 6-1 6-2 against Paul after Tsitsipas got the better of Karen Khachanov 7-6[2] 6-4 6-7[6] 6-3, but it was far from plain sailing for Djokovic as he mishit a wealth of shots in the early exchanges.

The writing was seemingly on the wall for Paul after being broken twice and falling 5-1 down in the first set, but Djokovic proceeded to net on a set point and the American broke back to give himself a glimmer of hope.

Paul incredibly broke a wounded Djokovic - who hit 22 unforced errors in the first nine games - once again before holding to get the contest back on serve, but Djokovic would consign his mistakes to history as he eventually saw out the first set.

Playing more like his usual ruthless self, Djokovic extended his winning streak to seven games as he went 5-0 up in the second set, albeit while beating away three break points for Paul in the third game in another sticky patch.

The 35-year-old quickly moved one set away from a place in the final and earned the double break immediately in the third, before Paul posted two holds to seemingly just delay the inevitable.

Djokovic proceeded to bring up three match points on serve, and Paul could only return long one final time to confirm the Serbian's spot in a Grand Slam final for the 33rd time in his career.

Stefanos Tsitsipas pictured at the Australian Open on January 27, 2023© Reuters

Prior to Djokovic's success, Tsitsipas reached his second Grand Slam final after a closely-fought four-set win over Russia's Khachanov, taking three hours and 21 minutes to defeat the world number 20.

Twice Tsitsipas would break Khachanov's serve in the first set, and twice Khachanov would immediately break back, forcing a tie-breaker which the Greek dominated after winning six of the first seven points.

Tsitsipas squandered three break points in the third game of the second set, but he continued to keep Khachanov at bay on serve and broke in the ninth game before a love hold put him one set away from another Grand Slam final.

Despite then falling two sets and a break down, Khachanov suddenly found a sixth gear at 3-5 down in the third, winning the next three games and saving two match points in the tie-breaker to remarkably force a fourth set.

An unfazed Tsitsipas immediately went 3-0 up in the third, though, and he held confidently to take his second match point and make his first major final since losing the 2021 French Open showpiece match to Djokovic.

"I feel blessed for the fact I'm able to play tennis at this level and for many years I've wanted to put Greek tennis on the map - Maria [Sakkari] and I have done that, I think," the 24-year-old said on the court.

Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka will compete in the women's singles final on Saturday before Djokovic and Tsitsipas face off on Sunday.

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Novak Djokovic reacts at the Australian Open on January 23, 2023
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