Australian Open: Novak Djokovic brushes Andrey Rublev aside to march into semi-finals

Champion-elect? Novak Djokovic  (Getty Images)
Champion-elect? Novak Djokovic (Getty Images)

If Novak Djokovic’s aim is spend as little time on court as possible at the Australian Open to limit the damage to his hamstring, it is paying off.

Against Alex de Minaur, he dropped just five games, in his quarter-final against Andrey Rublev, another mere seven went begging in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win.

The Russian No5 seed couldn’t quite believe what was happening, letting out shrieks of frustration that he was being treated as a mere plaything. His record in Grand Slam quarter-finals now reads six losses from six attempts.

But it is hard to see how Rublev could have done much differently. As a nine-time champion, Djokovic has regularly been in a class of his own at Melbourne Park. Even with the injury, that shows little signs of abating this time around.

He broke Rublev twice in the opening set, his only obstacle taking umbrage with a heckler in the stands.

Rublev held his opening two serves of the next set before twice being broken. He went on to save two set points on the Djokovic serve and earned himself a break point but could not convert it.

That was the story of the match, with five unconverted break points out of five during the match.

It’s hard to look past Djokovic for the title and he now faces Tommy Paul for a final spot after winning the all-American encounter with Ben Shelton.

The 25-year-old had not been beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam before this year but proved too good for his 20-year-old opponent for a 7-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory.

Neither had been expected to reach the quarter-finals, particularly Shelton who had played just one Grand Slam match prior to Melbourne Park. In addition, it was the college student’s first time travelling outside of the United States.

Despite the loss, it has been a meteoric rise for Shelton, who was outside the world’s top 500 at the start of last season.