In a battle of two young Americans, Tommy Paul secured his spot in the Australian Open semifinals as he defeated Ben Shelton 7-6(6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 inside Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday.
“Making it to the second week of a Slam, that’s everyone’s dream when they start playing tennis” said Paul. “So I can’t believe I’m here right now.”
In the opening set, Paul faced a crucial point at 30-30 while serving down 5-6, but fired an ace on a second serve to move to 40-30 and proceeded to hold serve on the ensuing game. Paul outdueled Shelton in the tiebreaker to take control of the match.
Paul then broke for a 4-2 lead in the second set en route to establishing a two-sets-to-love lead, and while Shelton extended the match with a third set win, Paul broke immediately to open up the fourth set to put to bed any hopes of a comeback.
“I’m really happy to get through that match,” said Paul. “There wasn’t too much rhythm in the match, but Ben’s a very tough player to play against. He’s going to be in many more matches like this, so I think everyone should be really excited for that kid.”
Standing in Paul’s way of the Australian Open final? Nine-time champion Novak Djokovic.
The fourth-seeded Serb continued his demolition of opponent’s by taking out fifth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday.
“Overall I think that the scoreline in the first two sets doesn’t speak the truth or the reality of the match,” said Djokovic. “It was some really close games that we had. Andrey is a great opponent, a great player. I’ve got tons of respect for him, one of the biggest forehands and one of the quickest players on the tour. If I have to sum it up, all the important shots, the important moments I found my best tennis. That’s what makes me the most pleased tonight.”
Djokovic saved all five break points that he faced while breaking Rublev five times throughout the two hour and three minute contest.
In the other semifinal, third-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas will take on 18th seeded Russian Karen Khachanov.
In the women’s quarterfinals on Wednesday, fifth-seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus defeated Croatia’s Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-2, and she will take on unseeded Magda Linette of Poland for a spot in the championship. Linette ousted 30th seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-5.
The other women’s singles semifinal will see Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina face off against two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka.