Australian Open men’s final: Djokovic hard to oppose in Tsitsipas showdown
Only injury has threatened to stop Novak Djokovic winning another grand slam title and he is the clear favourite heading into the men’s Australian Open final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The winner will overtake Carlos Alcaraz as world number one and Tsitsipas is 17/5 to do so by securing his first grand slam title but he has lost the last nine meetings with his next opponent.
Djokovic’s 7-5 6-1 6-2 victory over American Tommy Paul in the semi-finals looked straightforward on the scoreboard but it certainly did not feel that way when the Serbian lost four games in a row from 5-1 up in the opening set.
The 35-year-old had steam-rollered Alex De Minaur and Andrey Rublev in the previous two rounds but did not look settled from the start, perhaps a legacy of the events of the previous 24 hours after his father was filmed with Vladimir Putin supporters at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.
Djokovic managed to win the opening set though and that allowed the 35-year-old, who again showed no sign of being bothered by his left hamstring issue, to loosen up a little.
He broke serve at the start of the second set and from there Paul, who is a willing runner with a fine backhand but no big weapons, was unable to land more than a fleeting blow on Djokovic.
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Djokovic set a new record of 27 straight match wins here and now faces a rematch of the 2021 French Open final, when he came back from two sets down to defeat Tsitsipas.
The Greek had earlier overcome a third-set wobble to defeat Karen Khachanov and reach his first Australian Open final.
The third seed has been a man on a mission all fortnight, troubled only by Jannik Sinner in the fourth round until now, and he looked set to cruise into the final as he stepped up to serve for a straight-sets victory.
But Russian Khachanov clung on, breaking Tsitsipas and then saving two match points in the third-set tie-break before the latter eventually clinched a 7-6 (1) 6-4 6-7 (6) 6-3 victory.
Speaking about the prospect of facing Tsitsipas, Djokovic said: “I respect him a lot, he has improved a lot over the years.
“I actually think he’s one of the most interesting guys on tour with his interests off court, his hairstyle. But it’s all business on Sunday. Let the best player win.”
Coral are offering an Odds Booster of 6/4 for Djokovic to win in straight sets while 21/10 for him to win the first set 6-2 or 6-3 looks good value given it has paid out in four of their eight meetings this decade.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication