Australian Open: Djokovic overcomes early wobble and injury worry to reach 10th final
Novak Djokovic limped into his 10th Australian Open final with a record-breaking 27th consecutive win in Melbourne against Tommy Paul on Friday.
Djokovic, who has never lost either a semi-final or a final at the first major of the season, came through 7-5 6-1 6-2 to eclipse the Andre Agassi win streak he had tied with a last-eight defeat of Andrey Rublev.
Despite a similar scoreline, however, this was not quite as straightforward as that prior match – particularly in a first set the nine-time champion threatened to throw away.
Djokovic also appeared to be suffering again with the hamstring injury that hampered his preparation for the tournament, but he now needs to come through just one more match, against Stefanos Tsitsipas, to add another title.
The semi ended as it started, with Djokovic in control, yet there was a blip when he looked to be coasting through the opener.
Having just passed up his first set point, Djokovic confronted the umpire when he was not allowed time to take a towel and appeared to lose his focus, allowing Paul to win the next seven points en route to consecutive breaks – the second clinched with a stunning 30-stroke rally.
Finally, with the set level, Djokovic regained some composure and soon enough took a long-awaited second set point before cupping his ear to the Melbourne crowd and being greeted with jeers in return.
It quickly became clear Paul had missed his chance as Djokovic cruised, his primary foe now that troublesome injury.
After stretching out his leg during the first-set collapse, the Serbian appeared in discomfort throughout a dominant second, asking for ice at 5-0 up ahead of Paul's sole hold in the set.
That ailment did not prove enough to derail Djokovic, though, as the third set followed a similar theme in an ultimately commanding semi success.
Data Slam: Djokovic closing on career-best streak
Now the sole owner of the longest Open Era winning streak in the main draw of the men's singles tournament at the Australian Open, Djokovic will match his best run at any grand slam if he beats Tsitsipas, having claimed 28 straight victories at Wimbledon.
Only Roger Federer (40 at the US Open and 40 at Wimbledon) and Bjorn Borg (41 at Wimbledon and 28 at the French Open) have previously had 27-match win sequences at two different majors.
Djokovic – 12/5
Paul – 4/0
Djokovic – 31/39
Paul – 18/32
BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 7/11
Paul – 2/9