Novak Djokovic has booked his place in the 2021 Australian Open final, overcoming Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 53 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
The world number was unstoppable early in the match, blazing away to a 6-3, 5-1 lead in just 53 minutes, hitting just a single unforced error.
However, his opponent, the exceptional qualifier put on display the form that got himself into the final four, reeling off three games in a row to claw his way back into the set. Karatsev even had break points to level the score, but ultimately Djokovic was too strong, fending off his impressive opponent, holding serve to take a two sets to love lead.
From that point onwards, the Serb was too strong and too far ahead to be beaten, and in turn claimed a straight sets victory.
Djokovic heaped praise on his opponent in his post match press conference: "Well, first I want to give credit to Karatsev for a great tournament. Maybe it wasn't his day today but he had big wins and debut, first Grand Slam semifinals. Kudos for great result," Djokovic said.
The eight time Australian Open champion came into the match with an injury cloud hanging over his head, but looked unhampered, and admitted he felt in the best shape he has this tournament:
"I felt as best as I felt so far in the tournament tonight. Physically, mentally, as well. I was hitting the ball very well, mixing the pace. Didn't give him the same looks at all. Always kind of kept him guessing and served well when I needed to get out of the trouble, you know, late in the second set."
The Serb hit 30 winners and was particularly resilient, giving away few free points to Karatsev, hitting just 14 unforced errors for the match.
"I'm just very pleased with the performance. It came at the right time. Before last match in a Grand Slam, couldn't be a better timing for me to play my best tennis," Djokovic said.
In his bid to claim a remarkable ninth Australian Open title, Djokovic will face the winner of the second semifinal on Friday night between fourth seed Daniil Medvedev and fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.