Novak marches on
Defending champion Novak Djokovic powered past Milos Raonic on Tuesday to set a blockbuster Australian Open semi-final against Roger Federer.
The Serbian world No. 2 despite trouble with his contact lenses, tamed the big-serving Canadian 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1) as he targets an eighth Melbourne Park crown and 17th Grand Slam title.
Novak and Federer are all-conquering in Melbourne, sharing 12 of the last 14 titles between them. They have played each other 49 times, with the Serb in front 26-23.
“I have tremendous respect for Roger,” said Djokovic. “The match-ups I have had against Roger and Rafa (Nadal) have made me the player I am today,” he added.
Ashleigh Barty said Tuesday that she prefers the quiet life but there is no chance of that after Australia’s world No.1 reached the semi-finals of her home Grand Slam for the first time.
The top seed plays 14th-seeded American Sofia Kenin in the last four after surviving a tough first set to defeat Petra Kvitova 7-6, (8-6), 6-2 in the quarter-finals.
There is intense pressure on Barty, the last remaining Australian in the tournament, to deliver the first homegrown women’s champion since Chris O’Neil in 1978.
She is the face of the Australian Open and her picture is on billboards all over Melbourne. But Barty said: “I’d prefer to just be sitting at home just living my quiet little life. I mean, no offence, but not having to chat to you guys every day would be pretty good,” she told reporters, smiling. “I feel like I have nothing to say, I’m talking in circles a little bit.”
But Barty said having the focus on her in Melbourne was inevitable and “a part of the journey that I hate it and I love it”.
Beating the Czech seventh seed Kvitova was revenge for Barty, who was beaten by the two-time Wimbledon champion at the same stage last year. But the down-to-earth Australian is a better player than 12 months ago, winning the French Open last year and hitting the top of the rankings for the first time.
Coco Gauff’s conqueror Sofia Kenin reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time as the American ended the historic run of Tunisian Ons Jabeur. The 14th seed defeated the unseeded Jabeur 6-4, 6-4 and faces Barty in the last four.
In mixed doubles, wild cards Leander Paes and Jelena Ostapenkpo lost to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray 6-2, 7-5 in a second round encounter. Agencies