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Novak Djokovic’s Disastrous Australian Open Semifinal Display Leaves Rod Laver Baffled

Published 01/26/2024, 12:18 AM EST

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The Rod Laver Arena is currently witnessing heights of unimagined action. Novak Djokovic is currently in a showdown against the rising Italian star Jannik Sinner. And unlike every other time he’s played a semifinal in Melbourne Park, the 10-time Australian Open champion looks out of sorts. Although the Serb remains the favorite, the scoreboard tells a completely different story.

Novak Djokovic lost the first two sets against Jannik Sinner in the semifinals of the Australian Open, as the Italian couldn’t have gotten off to a better start with a remarkable 6-1, 6-2 score. In a statistic that seems almost unbelievable, Djokovic has won the Happy Slam every time he’s reached the semifinal stage. So, as Sinner wrapped up the first two sets in just over an hour on Rod Laver Arena, the man after whom the court is named couldn’t believe what he was witnessing.

Sinner could rain on Laver and Djokovic’s parade

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In a statistic almost as striking as Djokovic’s semifinal record in Melbourne, Jannik Sinner has defeated the World No.1 twice in their last three meetings, all of which happened in the span of three weeks. As everyone eagerly awaited the moment they faced off after that Davis Cup match-up, this semifinal is keeping up the Sinner trend so far. And while Sinner may be feeling a sense of deja vu from Wimbledon 2022 (an outcome he wouldn’t want a repeat of), Rod Laver looks baffled. After all, he had backed Djokovic to such a great extent.

“He’s such a great athlete, to begin with, but his mind also is tennis, and so he sees it almost unfold in front of him, just what he should be doing,” the legend told Reuters. Predicting Djokovic would win his 25th Grand Slam in Australia, he added, “He serves well, his groundstrokes are unbeatable. So, I have to believe, unless someone miraculously plays their best tennis to knock him off, they can start putting part of his initials on the trophy now.”

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Sinner, who was projected as one of the main contenders for the AO title, currently appears to be that miracle. He looks to be in perfect form to achieve the seemingly unthinkable. The 22-year-old has one of the greatest returners of the sport on the other side of the net. But so far, the defending champion hasn’t got a sniff at a break point. However, it remains to be seen if Sinner maintains the same consistency. Meanwhile, what Rod Laver predicted is on the verge of being proven wrong by the young Italian.

 

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Rod Laver was confident about Novak Djokovic advancing to the finals

As the first Grand Slam of 2024 kicked off, the defending champion’s run for a record-extending 11th title didn’t start on the best foot. With Croatia’s young Dino Prizmic pushing Djokovic to the limit for four hours in the first round, that form seemed to have carried over into his second-round encounter with Australia’s Alexei Popyrin. However, whenever he had to, Djokovic stepped up his game and dominated play, making everyone believe he could easily get to the finals.

Along with everyone, legend Rod Laver also showed his firm belief in the Serb’s potential. “It’s almost like he’s priming himself to get through to the final,” he said, confident about Djokovic’s potentially strong run. He also mentioned his strength to take down an opponent with a one-sided score, also alluding to the Serb’s dropped sets.

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“He’ll lose a set somewhere in these five-setters and I’m thinking, ‘Is he having us on?’ Because he could win this in two and two and two (6-2 6-2 6-2),” Laver added. As the Serb is currently fighting to keep his Australian Open dream alive, Rod Laver is the portrayal of what every Novak Djokovic fan must be going through right now.

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Written by:

Akshay Kapoor

770Articles

One take at a time

Born into a family that practically breathes tennis, I spent my early childhood days huddled together with my loved ones, watching the electrifying rallies of the legendary Rafael Nadal. Such a unique experience forged a lifelong love for the sport in me. Before joining EssentiallySports, I honed my skills while working for a regional website, covering a variety of sports.
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Edited by:

Shudh Mukherjee