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Can anyone stop Novak Djokovic? That question looms over the 2023 Australian Open men’s singles semifinals on Friday in Melbourne. Universal Tennis INSIGHTS is previewing both semifinals.
(18) Karen Khachanov (UTR Rating 15.88) vs. (3) Stefanos Tsitsipas (16.01)
Karen Khachanov is starting to make a habit of reaching Grand Slam semifinals. The 6’6” right-hander had played in 22 Grand Slam tournaments and never made it to the last four of tennis’ biggest tournaments before reaching the US Open semifinals last year.
Now he’s done it again at the 2023 Australian Open, where he’ll face third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the men’s singles final. Both men are eyeing their first Australian Open title match.
Khachanov advanced when No. 29 seed Sebastian Korda retired down 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-0 because of an injury to his right wrist. The 26-year-old Khachanov has yet to be pushed the distance in Melbourne, dropping a set in only two matches, including in his third-round tilt against No. 16 seed Frances Tiafoe.
But Tsitsipas seems primed for the moment in Melbourne. The Greek strolled into his sixth Grand Slam semifinal (fourth in Melbourne) with a straight-sets win against Czech upstart Jiri Lehecka.
Tsitsipas hasn’t dropped a set at his favorite Grand Slam and is 9-0 on the year. The 24-year-old is looking to reach his second major championship final after letting slip a two-sets-to-zero lead against Djokovic in the 2021 French Open final.
Khachanov is looking to make his maiden Grand Slam final. To do so, he’ll have to end a 13-match losing streak against players ranked inside the Top 5.
INSIGHTS PREDICTION: Universal Tennis INSIGHTS favors Tsitsipas at 58%. He is 5-0 against Khachanov.
(4) Novak Djokovic (16.27) vs. Tommy Paul (15.80)
In the second semifinal, the fourth-seeded Djokovic will try to dismantle American Tommy Paul, who’s playing in his first Grand Slam semifinal. Djokovic is riding a 26-match win streak in Melbourne and has never lost in the Australian Open semifinals or finals (18-0).
The nine-time Australian Open champion took apart fifth seed Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to return to the last four. It appears his heavily-taped left hamstring isn’t bothering him one bit anymore.
"The past two matches, playing against two guys that are really good players, in-form players, to beat them dominantly in three sets is definitely something that I want in this moment, something that sends a message to all my opponents remaining in the draw," Djokovic said.
Paul has surely seen the message, but the 25-year-old American should step inside Rod Laver Arena feeling loose. He’s already achieved his career-best Grand Slam result by beating compatriot Ben Shelton in four sets in the quarterfinals.
Paul is the first American man since Andy Roddick in 2009 to make the semifinals Down Under. Paul will now try to become the first American man to reach the Australian Open singles final since Andre Agassi 20 years ago.
TOMMY PAUL ADVANCES TO THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN SEMIFINAL‼️— ESPN (@espn) January 25, 2023
He is the first American man to reach the Australian Open semifinals since Andy Roddick in 2009 💪 pic.twitter.com/pJbvY0xMNl
INSIGHTS PREDICTION: Universal Tennis INSIGHTS thinks otherwise, though. Djokovic is a 75% favorite to beat Paul and stroll into his record-extending 33 major singles final.
•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 10:00 a.m. EST, January 26, 2023.