World No.4 Jannik Sinner kept his hot streak rolling as he passed his quarter-final test with flying colours against a fiery Andrey Rublev on Rod Laver Arena.
Fears grew throughout the day session that the Sinner-Rublev match would potentially commence after midnight due to a scheduling howler, but those concerns were laid to rest as the players walked out after 10:30pm.
Powerful hitting from both players produced a glimpse of what was to be expected, as Rublev had the first break-point looks at 15-40 in the fourth game thanks to his aggressive approach and willingness to hit the lines.
Those two opportunities were quickly shut down in the blink of an eye before the Italian picked apart his opponents’ next service game to break to love and stamp his authority.
The movement and ball-striking was something to behold as the pair exchanged some scintillating rallies in a hard-fought tussle from the baseline, as Sinner steamrolled with the advantage to take the opening set despite Rublev leading the winners by double the margin.
As the match progressed deep into the second set, the contest was evenly poised and on a knife-edge with neither able to gain the upper hand on serve. 5 aces each and a win on first serve percentage of 78% (Sinner) and 81% (Rublev) respectively forced a second set tiebreak.
On the brink of dropping his first set of the tournament, Sinner won six consecutive points from 5-1 down in a gallant effort helped by his ability to dictate the rallies and get an extra ball in play to take a seemingly unassailable two set buffer.
Although the Russian produced some high-class tennis for the highlights reel, Sinner successfully neutralised the pace coming at him to direct his shots deep into the court to transition from defence to offensive.
Since November’s Davis Cup final, Sinner had won seven successive matches in straight sets, adding an eighth as he dismantled Rublev 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-3 to set up an epic semi-final showdown with world No.1 Novak Djokovic on Friday.
Sinner explained in his post-match press conference that he’s looking forward to the challenge against the 10-time Australian Open champion.
“This is what I practice for, to play against the best players in the world,” said Sinner. Obviously [he] has an incredible record here, so for me it's a pleasure to play against him, especially in the final stages of the tournament where things are a little bit more interesting.
“I'm looking forward to it, to be honest. It's gonna be tough. I will control the controllable, which is giving 100%, having the right attitude, [and] fighting for every ball.”