Guaranteed to keep his No. 1 ranking, now will Novak Djokovic (UTR Rating 16.26) finally feel comfortable and relax in the 2024 Australian Open semifinals on Thursday? Ha! As if he’s ever felt discomfort on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park.
Djokovic will put his 10-0 Australian Open semifinal record on the line on Thursday when he meets fourth seed Jannik Sinner of Italy (16.23).
UTR Sports INSIGHTS previews that semifinal, as well as the other last four matchup between third seed Daniil Medvedev and sixth seed Alexander Zverev.
Previewing 2024 Australian Open Men’s Singles Semifinals
(1) Novak Djokovic (16.26) vs. (4) Jannik Sinner (16.23)
History is certainly on Djokovic’s side as the 36-year-old has never lost at this stage in Melbourne.
The Serbian has been tested thus far as well in Melbourne, having fought through a physical quarterfinal in four sets against top American Taylor Fritz. He’s also 2-0 against Sinner in Grand Slam matches (both at Wimbledon).
But recent history might give Sinner the edge. The 22-year-old from northern Italy, who works with Aussie coach Darren Cahill, has beaten Djokovic in two of their past three meetings, including their most recent matchup at Davis Cup in November.
Sinner has been clutch in big points thus far in Melbourne. He fell behind 1-5 in the second-set tie-break of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Andrey Rublev but reeled off six consecutive points and advanced in straight sets.
The Italian saved all eight break points against Rublev and has yet to drop a set through five matches.
“These kind of moments I really love to play. This is what I practice for and I’m really excited when we have these pressure points,” Sinner said.
UTR Sports INSIGHTS has this one as a virtual toss-up, with Djokovic favored at 52% to improve to 5-2 against Sinner and slide into his 11th Australian Open final.
(3) Daniil Medvedev (16.08) vs. (6) Alexander Zverev (15.93)
Daniil Medvedev threw one of the better curveballs of the 2024 Australian Open fortnight against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland (15.72) in their quarterfinal.
Medvedev gave a charming “masterclass” interview with Jim Courier after his fourth-round match, explaining why he stands so far back to return serve and why that return position gives him such an advantage.
Then against Hurkcaz, Medvedev flipped the script and hovered the baseline against the 6-foot-5 Pole. The strategy worked well enough as the 2021 US Open champion prevailed in five sets to reach his third consecutive Grand Slam semifinal.
"In my mind I knew that against Hubert, amazing serve-and-volley... His ball, he's probably the only one where the ball, even if I stay really far back, it continues to go up, it never really goes down. So it doesn't really work to stay there,” Medvedev said.
"So talking to Jim, talking in the press conference, I was like, 'I know next match I'm going to stay close, but I'm not going to tell it you right now!' So a little surprise here and there, and I'm happy that it kind of worked."
Medvedev will hope to have more tricks on display as he looks to reach his third Australian Open final against Germany’s Alexander Zverev (15.93), who dismissed reigning Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz of Spain (16.04) for his first win against a Top 5 player at a Grand Slam.
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Zverev extended his head-to-head advantage against Alcaraz to 5-3. The 26-year-old German is hoping to make his second Grand Slam final (2020 US Open). But Medvedev leads the overall head-to-head 11-7 and has won five of their past six matches.
“A lot of the times it came down to him being extremely confident last year, him playing some of the best tennis of his life, and me coming back from injury and not having the confidence in deciding moments,” Zverev said of their rivalry.
“He's obviously extremely difficult to play, no question about it, he's one of the best players in the world right now."
UTR Sports Insights predicts that Medvedev will reach his sixth Grand Slam final, favoring the Russian at 59%.
UTR Ratings and percentages as of 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, January 25, 2024.