Novak Djokovic needs no extra motivation as he aims to win the Australian Open for a 10th time, as his confidence levels continue to rise.

Djokovic stormed into the semi-finals with a 6-1 6-2 6-4 thrashing of Andrey Rublev on Wednesday.

The Serbian has never lost a semi-final in Melbourne, while he has matched Andre Agassi for the longest Australian Open win streak in the Open Era (26).

Asked if this is as confident he has ever felt at the season's opening major, the 21-time grand slam champion told reporters: "I can't really say that this is as confident that I ever felt because I've had some incredible seasons, years here in Australian Open, some matches that are really unforgettable for me.

"I've been fortunate to really live through a lot of success in Australian Open. But [in the] last two matches, playing against two guys that are really good players, in-form players, to beat them dominantly in three sets is something that sends a message to all my opponents remaining in the draw.

"With this kind of game, of course the confidence level rises. I feel good on the court, better and better as the tournament progresses.

"I've been in this situation so many times in my life, in my career, never lost a semi-final at the Australian Open. Hopefully, that will stay the same."

When it was put to Djokovic that he is even more motivated at the age of 35, Djokovic said: "I don't think that I lack determination.

"I always try to give my best, particularly in grand slams, because at this stage of my career those are the tournaments that count the most, of course.

"You could say that there is something extra this year. You could say because [of] the injury, [and] what happened last year. I just wanted to really do well.

"I have a perfect score in Australian hard courts, in Adelaide and here. I've been playing better and better. I couldn't ask for a better situation to be in at the moment."

Djokovic will face Tommy Paul in the last four, after the American defeated compatriot Ben Shelton. 

Paul has never faced Djokovic, who nevertheless knows what to expect.

"I know how he plays. I never faced him on the court, but he's been around for a few years," said Djokovic.

"I watched him play quite a bit, especially during this tournament. He's been playing probably tennis of his life. Very explosive, very dynamic player. 

"I think he can hit all the spots with the serve. A very complete player. First semi-final for him, so of course he doesn't have much to lose."

Three American men progressed to the quarter-finals in Melbourne for the first time since 2000, and the first time in any grand slam since 2005, and Djokovic believes a strong United States contingent is crucial.

"America for our sport is an extremely important country," Djokovic said. "We have some of the biggest tournaments in the world played there.

"I think it is important that we see successful American men and women. Now you have a list of maybe four or five young players that are knocking on the door of the top level. I think that's great for our sport."

Novak Djokovic felt he played his best tennis in Wednesday's straight-sets win over Andrey Rublev which resulted in his 10th semi-final appearance at the Australian Open.

Djokovic produced a dominant performance as he ran out a 6-1 6-2 6-4 victor against Rublev, who has now lost each of his seven career grand slam quarter-finals.

Having missed last year's tournament, nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic has now won 26 consecutive matches at the event, matching Andre Agassi's record streak in the men's singles draw, set between 2000 and 2004.

Speaking courtside after securing another routine win, Djokovic insisted his opponent deserved more but said he had hit top form at Rod Laver Arena.

"Overall, I think the scoreline of the first two sets does not speak to the reality of the match, there were some really close games," Djokovic said.

"Andrey's a great opponent, a great player. I have tonnes of respect for him. He has one of the biggest forehands and is one of the quickest players on the Tour.

"I knew what the game plan was, but it's one thing to imagine how you want to play and another to execute it on the court. 

"If I had to sum it up, in all the important moments and important shots, I found my best tennis. That's what makes me most pleased tonight."

Djokovic described his 6-2 6-1 6-2 demolition of Alex de Minaur in the last 16 as his best performance of the year on Monday, and the Serbian ranked his display against Rublev as a close second.

"I would rank it as number two, but very close to the performance of two nights ago!" Djokovic said.

"I could not be happier with my tennis, honestly. I've been playing very solid from the back of the court and I really love playing under these conditions and on this court.

"I've said it many times, but I love playing here. It's definitely the most special court for me."

Djokovic's pursuit of a record-extending 10th title at Melbourne Park looked to be in doubt as he struggled with a hamstring injury in the early rounds, but after moving freely on Wednesday, the 35-year-old credited his medical team's efforts.

"On the days off it's important to be smart and wise with the body in these particular circumstances. It's important to recover and get ready for the next challenge," he said. 

"I just want to give huge credit to my physiotherapist Miljan [Amanovic], he has been through hell with me over the last 10 days with all the treatments. He deserves huge credit and I'm so grateful to him."

Novak Djokovic claimed a share of another piece of history on Wednesday as he won his 26th consecutive match at the Australian Open.

Djokovic took the title in Melbourne in 2019, 2020 and 2021 before he was denied entry last year and subsequently deported due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.

The 21-time grand slam champion is back this year and has continued his winning run, defeating Roberto Carballes Baena, Enzo Couacaud, Grigor Dimitrov, Alex de Minaur and, on Wednesday, Andrey Rublev.

That quarter-final success saw Djokovic match Andre Agassi for the longest Australian Open win streak in the Open Era.

Agassi won 26 in a row between 2000 and 2004, likewise winning three titles, missing one tournament and then reaching a semi-final before finally being beaten.

Djokovic will hope to avoid the same fate as he bids for the outright record against Tommy Paul in the semis, although he has never been beaten in a last-four match in Melbourne, winning the title on the previous nine occasions he reached this stage.

Those nine titles are a record for any man at the Australian Open and for Djokovic at any one major.

This is also now Djokovic's favourite grand slam in terms of match wins, with the 6-1 6-2 6-4 dismantling of Rublev his 87th victory in Melbourne. It passed his 86 wins at Wimbledon.

Novak Djokovic cruised into the Australian Open semi-finals with a crushing 6-1 6-2 6-4 win against Andrey Rublev, producing a near-faultless display at Rod Laver Arena.

The 21-time grand slam winner needed just over two hours to reach his 10th semi-final at the event – making him just the second player to hit double figures in the Open Era after Roger Federer (15).

Djokovic dominated from the off, breaking Rublev at just the second attempt and repeating the trick in the sixth game after angrily calling out a heckler between points.

Rublev faced seven break points in a one-sided opener as Djokovic pushed him back with a series of powerful groundstrokes, and there was to be little respite for the Russian in the second set.

Rublev gave up two breaks either side of a back-and-forth game in which Djokovic overcame intense pressure to hold, with the world number six ranting at the umpire over the time Djokovic took to serve. 

Djokovic then held serve in another lengthy game to see out the second set, before securing another swift break at the outset of the third as a frustrated Rublev hurled his racquet to the ground.

While Rublev improved in a low-key third set, Djokovic's excellent service game ensured the Russian became just the second male player in the Open Era to lose each of his first seven major quarter-finals, after Tommy Robredo.

Djokovic, meanwhile, is in ominous form in his pursuit of a record-extending 10th Australian Open title, moving freely after being troubled by a hamstring injury in the earlier rounds, as he teed up a meeting with American Tommy Paul.

Data slam: Djokovic as good as ever in resounding win

Having missed out on the Australian Open last year following his deportation from the country, Djokovic has resembled a man on a mission this time around as he looks to get his hands on the trophy for a fourth time in five years.

Djokovic is just the seventh male player to reach the Australian Open's last four after turning 35 in the Open Era, after Ken Rosewall, Roger Federer, Mal Anderson, Rafael Nadal, Arthur Ashe and Colin Dibley.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 14/5
Rublev – 6/3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 32/21
Rublev – 26/29

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 5/14
Rublev – 0/5 

Tommy Paul is into the last four at a grand slam for the first time after overcoming surprise package Ben Shelton in an all-American quarter-final at the Australian Open.

Paul triumphed 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 5-7 6-4 against Shelton at Rod Laver Arena, ending the 20-year-old's surprise run on his first trip outside the United States. 

World number 35 Paul showed his class in longer exchanges between the two big-serving Americans, though Shelton briefly troubled the 25-year-old when he claimed the third set after going a break down.

Having found an immediate break to quell Shelton's momentum, Paul dominated on serve in the fourth set to become the first American man to reach the Australian Open semi-finals since Andy Roddick in 2009.

Having teed up a meeting with either Novak Djokovic or Andrey Rublev, Paul said: "Yesterday when I was doing a couple of interviews, they asked how it felt to be in the quarter-finals, and I was like, 'semi-finals sounds a little better'.

"I'm pumped to be there and really excited for whoever I play. Making it to the second week of a slam is everyone's dream when they start playing tennis. So I can't believe I'm here right now."

Data slam: Paul dominates on serve

Having originally appeared to be on course for a straight-sets triumph, Paul could have lost his way when Shelton claimed the third set, but the 25-year-old was outstanding on serve to see it through.

Paul won all 17 of his first-serve points in the final set, winning 86 per cent throughout the match as his quality told.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Paul – 7/3
Shelton – 24/6

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Paul – 43/26
Shelton – 42/50

BREAK POINTS WON

Paul – 3/15
Shelton – 2/4 

Aryna Sabalenka has lost all three of her previous grand slam semi-finals but says this year's Australian Open feels different after powering her way into the last four on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old fifth seed triumphed 6-3 6-2 over Donna Vekic to secure a berth in the semi-finals where she will face unseeded Pole Magda Linette.

Sabalenka won the Adelaide International title prior to the Melbourne Open, meaning she has won her past nine matches without dropping a set.

Wednesday's win improved Sabalenka's grand slam quarter-final record to 4-0, but her major semi-final record is a different story, currently 0-3, despite winning the first set in all three.

Sabalenka made the US Open semi-final last year where she lost to top seed and eventual winner Iga Swiakek. The Belarussian also made the semis at Flushing Meadows in 2021, going down to unseeded Canadian Leylah Fernandez, while she lost her 2021 Wimbledon semi-final to eighth seed Karolina Pliskova.

"I feel a little bit different," Sabalenka told reporters. "I think that I lost those three semi-finals just because I wasn't really calm on court.

"I was overdoing things. I really wanted to get this slam. I was rushing a lot. I was nervous a lot. Screaming, doing all this stuff.

"Right now, I'm a little bit more calm on court. I think I really believe that this is the only thing that was missing in my game. If I can keep that focus and that calm on court, I can get through it.

"I just feel like I have more believe in myself. I feel like this is the huge difference."

The powerful Sabalenka utilized her forehand brilliantly against Vekic with 38 winners, while she kept her cool, saving 12 of 14 break points.

When asked how she is staying focused, she added: "I'm just trying to look at the situation from the top, to see, for example I'm up with a break, and even if she's going to break me back, nothing bad going to happen. You are just going to keep serving well.

"I'm just trying to look at the situation from the top, try to relax myself, try to think what I have to do."

Sabalenka's run to the Australian Open last four sets up the opportunity of a first-ever all-Belarussian grand slam final, with compatriot Victoria Azarenka into the other semi-final, where she will face Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.

"I really want it to happen," she said. "I know that Vika will do everything she can to make it happen. I will do everything I can to make it happen.

"That's going to be history. That's going to be just unbelievable and tough to realise that this is actually happening.

"It's just going to be huge. This is going to help other kids to understand that they can do well in this sport, they can be top players."

Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka kept alive her hopes of a maiden grand slam final appearance after downing Donna Vekic in straight sets in their Australian Open quarter-final on Thursday.

Sabalenka, who has lost three major semi-finals, progressed to a last-four date with Poland's Magda Linette, after triumphing 6-3 6-2 over the unseeded 26-year-old Croatian in one hour and 47 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.

The 24-year-old Belarussian's powerful forehand and ability to win the key points ultimately made the difference.

Sabalenka blasted 38 winners for the match, the majority on her forehand, compared to Dekic's 21, while she also sent down nine aces.

Neither player was able to assert themselves in a disjointed first set, where Sabalenka got the first break in the fourth game with a deft drop shot, only for Vekic to respond immediately with a break back.

Vekic won only four-of-17 second-serve points in the first set, committing nine double faults, as Sabalenka broke again for 5-3 before serving out the opening frame.

Sabalenka appeared set to cruise into the last four when she broke Vekic again in the opening game of the second frame, racing to a 3-0 lead, before the Croatian showed some fight.

Data slam: Sabalenka clutch under pressure

The match was closer than the scoreline suggested, with eight of the first 12 games going to deuce, but Sabalenka's big-game experience arguably held her in good stead under pressure.

The Belarussian faced nine break points in the first set, saving eight of those, while she finished the match surviving 12 of 14, including three in the decisive game.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Sabalenka– 9/9
Vekic– 4/13

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Sabalenka– 38/35
Vekic– 21/25

BREAK POINTS WON

Sabalenka– 5/13
Vekic– 2/14

Poland will have a woman in the semi-final of the Australian Open after Magda Linette emerged victorious 6-3 7-5 in Wednesday's quarter-final against Karolina Pliskova.

World number one Iga Swiatek was expected to be flying the flag for Poland deep into the tournament, but after her surprising exit it is now the 30-year-old Linette who will try to step up and go all the way.

Having never advanced past the third round at any of her previous 29 grand slam appearances, Linette has now hit a remarkable run of form that includes consecutive wins over world number 19 Anett Kontaveit, world number 18 Ekaterina Alexandrova, and world number four Caroline Garcia.

Against Pliskova – a former world number one – Linette capitalised on some sloppy play as her Czech opponent committed an uncharacteristic 36 unforced errors with only 18 winners.

Pliskova also committed seven double-faults, leading to a meagre 58 per cent success rate (34-of-59) from her service points, while Linette converted at a 70 per cent clip (45-of-64).

Speaking on the court immediately after her triumph, Linette said: "I will never forget this. This is the first time ever I'm breaking through some really difficult things for me. This will stay with me for life, so I'm really grateful and super happy for the support."

Linette will face the winner between Aryna Sabalenka and Donna Vekic in the semi-final, while Elena Rybakina and Victoria Azarenka will battle it out for the other spot in the decider.

Victoria Azarenka sympathised with Novak Djokovic as she stated tennis players are "not villains" after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time in a decade.

Azarenka beat Jessica Pegula 6-4 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday to set up a last-four meeting with Elena Rybakina.

Former world number one Azarenka came in for criticism when she took a medical timeout during her last semi-final at Melbourne Park back in 2013, delaying her match against Sloane Stephens by 10 minutes.

The Belarusian, who is now 33, returned to beat Stephens and went on to defend successfully her title.

Questions have been raised over the extent of a hamstring issue nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic has been contending with as he attempts to match Rafael Nadal's tally of 22 major triumphs this weekend.

Azarenka feels it is out of order for such suspicions to be raised by people who are not aware of the facts.

She said: "Do you know what happened 10 years ago? That's the thing.

"It was one of the worst things that I've ever gone through in my professional career, the way I was treated after that moment, the way I had to explain myself until 10:30pm at night because people didn't want to believe me. I actually can resonate what Novak said the other day.

"There is sometimes incredible desire for a villain and a hero story that has to be written. But we're not villains, we're not heroes, we are regular human beings that go through so many, many things.

"Assumptions and judgements, all those comments, are just s*** because nobody's there to see the full story. It didn't matter how many times I said my story, it did not cut through.

"Actually it's funny that you're saying that because I was thinking about it. It took me 10 f****** years to get over it. I finally am over that."

Asked to expound what the judgements or assumptions she experienced were, Azarenka said: "I've been called that I'm cheating, that I'm faking, that I was trying to throw people off their game. It's everything that is so wrong about my character if somebody actually knows me.

"At some point I've heard that she has this thing that is bad or this thing is bad, whatever. At some point you're like, 'Really? Am I?'. Those doubts starts to creep in.

"Now I just don't care. I am more and more confident in what I know about myself, and I'm at peace with that. Those comments, judgements, they're there. I notice them. But I don't care."

Stefanos Tsitsipas has no chip on his shoulder about how much hype he receives, despite becoming the youngest player since Roger Federer to reach three successive Australian Open semi-finals.

Tsitsipas defeated Jiri Lehecka in straight sets on Tuesday to seal his place in the last four in Melbourne.

In the process, the 24-year-old reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the third consecutive year, matching the feat of the great Federer between 2004 and 2006.

The world number four also became the fourth male player in the Open Era to stay unbeaten in his first six grand slam quarter-finals after Rod Laver, Patrick Rafter, and Andre Agassi.

However, Tsitsipas insists he is not worried by how much attention his accomplishments get.

When asked if no longer being talked about as one of the next generation's figureheads meant he now has a chip on his shoulder, the Greek replied: "No, I don't really think about it.

"Every single opponent has his own background, his own sort of dynamic they put out on the court.

"I kind of forgot that Jiri today was a next gen player. Never thought about it.

"I approach every single opponent of mine with the same mindset. I never put labels on them. Each and every match that I get to play against them is a new chapter in my book."

Tsitsipas also believes he has already been through the early stage of his development, and now views himself as one of the maturer players.

"I passed through this myself. At some point it fades out a little bit 'cause you are an adult," he said.

"I had my fair share of that. There's no other 'gen' after that, it's just adulthood. 

"It's mindset. It's clearly mindset. Nothing more."

Asked if this could be the tournament in which he breaks his grand slam duck, Tsitsipas said: "I'm feeling great with my tennis. I don't think I felt so good in a long time.

"I will definitely say yes to it. I've said it, I'm a different player, playing different. My mentality is different. When I'm out on the court, I don't really think of negatives, to be honest. I just go out there and play the game."

Karen Khachanov has defended his decision to publicly show support for the breakaway region of Artsakh, despite drawing the ire of the Azerbaijan Tennis Federation (ATF).

Khachanov – who was born in Russia but has an Armenian father – has written supportive messages on a camera twice during his run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

Azerbaijan's blockade of Artsakh, which began in December, is part of the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, with the area internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan despite historically being a part of Armenia.

Following Khachanov's show of support, the ATF wrote to the International Tennis Federation, calling the world number 20's messages a "hateful act".

The statement added: "The ATF condemned this act and demanded that the tennis player be punished and urged the International Tennis Federation to take harsh measures for prevention of such incidents in the future."

Speaking after his quarter-final win over Sebastian Korda, in which the American retired hurt with Khachanov leading by two sets and a break, the Russian defended his actions.

"I say many times. I have Armenian roots," he said. "From my father's side, from my grandfather's side, even from my mum's side. I'm half Armenian.

"To be honest, I don't want to go deeper than that, and I just wanted to show strength and support to my people. That's it."

On whether he had heard from the ITF since the complaint was made, Khachanov replied: "I didn't hear anything about that," adding that he has also not been told to stop writing the messages on cameras.

Khachanov will play Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open semi-finals on Friday.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has invited Margot Robbie to watch him at the Australian Open after charging through to the semi-finals in Melbourne.

The Greek tennis star says he is a huge fan of the Australian actor and would love her to support him from the Melbourne Park stands.

His surprise shout-out to Robbie came after Tsitsipas scored a 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 win against unseeded Czech Jiri Lehecka in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Tsitsipas was partway through explaining his impressive display to on-court interviewer Jim Courier, detailing how it took "experience and some good Spartan attitude" to get the better of Lehecka, when he mentioned the 32-year-old Hollywood star.

Robbie, married to English film producer Tom Ackerley, became well known in Australia and the UK for her role in the soap opera Neighbours before turning to Hollywood.

Her career includes prominent roles in movies including The Wolf of Wall Street, Suicide Squad and I, Tonya, as well as being the voice of Flopsy Rabbit in the Peter Rabbit film series.

"Can you hear them? Australia is such a great country," Tsitsipas said, reacting to roars from the crowd.

"I like a lot of great Aussie things. One of my favourite actresses comes from Australia, Margot Robbie."

Former Australian Open champion Courier, surprised by that unprompted mention, said: "Are you pitching right now?"

That prompted Tsitsipas to say: "It would be nice to see her over there one day."

Was that an invitation to Robbie?

"Absolutely," Tsitsipas said.

The 24-year-old Greek player soon stressed that his Robbie fandom was not the main reason for him enjoying Australia.

"That's not it," Tsitsipas said. "The people are very welcoming. I've said that so many times and will keep saying it because it's true.

"I grew up in a place that's very similar in terms of conditions and lifestyle and find myself feeling home when I'm here because it's not too tropical, and it's not too humid, and it very much feels like home.

"The French players have Roland Garros as their home grand slam, the British players have Wimbledon, the Americans have the US Open; for me, the Australian Open is always going to be my home grand slam.

"I would love one day hopefully winning the Aussie Open and giving a bit portion of the prize-money to build a school in Victoria which is the state of education. I'd like to do that."

Stefanos Tsitsipas stormed into a third consecutive Australian Open semi-final with a straight-sets victory over Jiri Lehecka on Tuesday.

Tsitsipas has bowed out at the last-four stage in three of the past four years, but the Greek will get another chance to reach a first final after beating Lehecka 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.

The third seed from Greece fired down nine aces and hit 36 winners on Rod Laver Arena, winning without having his serve broken to set up a meeting with Russian Karen Khachanov.

Unseeded Czech Lehecka was broken in his first service game and Tsitsipas did not give him a look-in from then on in the first set.

The 21-year-old Lehecka had the favourite in trouble in the fourth game of the second set, but saw five break-point opportunities come and go.

Tsitsipas clinically won the tie-break to move a set away from the semi-finals, but Lehecka put up a great fight but was frustrated when he was unable to convert another three break points before the favourite held to lead 4-3.

Another tie-break looked possible until Lehecka's excellent run in only his second main-draw appearance came to an end when he netted a backhand following a thunderous cross-court winner from a fired-up Tsitsipas.


Tsitsipas maintains perfect quarter-final record

A first major title has so far eluded Tsitsipas, but he keeps knocking on the door and is two wins away from achieving that dream.

The 24-year-old is the fourth male player in the Open Era to be unbeaten in his first six grand slam quarter-finals after Rod Laver, Patrick Rafter, and Andre Agassi. 

 

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Tsitsipas – 9/2
Lehecka– 7/4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Tsitsipas– 36/28
Lehecka– 38/32

BREAK POINTS WON

Tsitsipas – 2/6
Lehecka – 0/8

Jelena Ostapenko was once again left bemoaning the electronic line calling system in place at the Australian Open after her quarter-final defeat to Elena Rybakina.

The Latvian did not blame the system for her loss, with Rybakina sealing a convincing 6-2 6-4 victory on Tuesday, but reiterated her belief that calls are being missed.

When asked following her fourth-round win against Coco Gauff whether she believed in the system, Ostapenko replied with a smile: "Honestly? No."

Speaking after her loss to Rybakina, she again smiled as she said: "I'm not really happy with the system they are using.

"A couple of times it was not even by a couple of centimetres. It was much more than that. But I cannot do anything about it, because it is the way as it is.

"First of all, [the calls] are really late sometimes. You already hit the ball, and then you hear 'out,' which is normally not the way it is with the line umpires. And second of all, some balls were quite, how you say, not a little out. They were [quite] a bit out and they were not called."

The number 17 seed – who suffered her first defeat in nine WTA-level quarter-finals – called for a return of the Hawk-Eye system and line judges, which was replaced at the Australian Open by the electronic system in 2021.

"Honestly, my personal opinion, I wish it would be the Hawk-Eye system and the line umpires, because I feel like that way it's more precise, and much [fewer] mistakes, in my opinion," the 2017 French Open champion added.

"... I think also, that way it looks a little better for me on the court how it is. Not just calling-wise, but in general how the court looks, because with no line umpires, for me, it looks a little empty."

Ostapenko was under no illusion that her own performance had not been at the level it was when she beat Gauff, and suggested that her participation in the mixed doubles late on Monday was a factor.

"I think in general today the level of the match was I think much lower than the previous one," she said. "I felt like me and Coco, we had a really high level of tennis and we played really well. It's a little shame that I couldn't bring this level of the tennis today.

"Obviously [Rybakina] was serving well, but I felt like already in the second set when I had the longer rallies with her, I was winning mostly, so that was my goal to make her play.

"I felt like maybe mixed doubles yesterday was a little bit not the right decision to play that late. But in general I think I can take only positive things out of this week, because it's only the beginning of the season, and if I keep working and keep playing the same way, I think I can be dangerous player."

Victoria Azarenka is through to her first Australian Open semi-final in a decade after beating Jessica Pegula in straights sets.

Azarenka had not reached the last four at Melbourne Park since going on to retain her title in 2013, but ended that wait with an impressive 6-4 6-1 victory over the third seed on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old from Belarus will do battle with Elena Rybakina for a place in the final following a commanding display on Rod Laver Arena.

Azarenka, the 24th seed, stormed into a 3-0 lead and although Pegula got back on serve at 5-3, she was a set down after being broken for a second time.

The experienced Azarenka clinically grasped her first break-point opportunity of the second set but Pegula hit straight back with a break of her own in the next game.

She was unable to turn the tide, though, as an inspired Azarenka dominated the remainder of the set with another two breaks and losing only a further two points behind her serve.

Azarenka, a winner of two mixed doubles grand slam titles since her last major triumph at this tournament 10 years ago, wrapped up the victory in an hour and 37 minutes.

 

Azarenka moves level with Graf

This quarter-final win for the former world number one took her tally of main-draw victories at the Australian Open to 47.

She is now level with the great Steffi Graf in sixth place on the list of the most women’s singles main-draw triumphs in this tournament in the Open Era.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Azarenka – 0/2
Pegula – 3/2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Azarenka– 17/20
Pegula– 19/31

BREAK POINTS WON

Azarenka – 5/13
Pegula – 2/4

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