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Australian Open semifinal preview: Can Sinner be the one to topple Djokovic?

Australian Open semifinal preview: Can Sinner be the one to topple Djokovic?

MELBOURNE, Australia — And then there were four. Novak Djokovic, Jannik Sinner, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev: the men remaining in contention for singles glory at the 2024 Australian Open (watch tonight on ESPN/ESPN+ starting at 10:30 p.m. ET)

History suggests world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who has won this title a record 10 times, is the player to beat. But Sinner, Medvedev and Zverev have each made compelling cases this fortnight that they can end Djokovic’s reign at Melbourne Park.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Jannik Sinner (4)

There are endless reasons to suggest Djokovic’s astounding success at the Australian Open will continue Friday when he battles Sinner for a place in yet another final.

We all know he’s won this event more than anyone else, including the past four titles he’s contested. But he’s also a staggering 20-0 in semifinal and finals matches at the tournament. Every time he’s managed to pass the quarterfinal stage, he’s won the title. The last time Djokovic lost at Rod Laver Arena, to Hyeon Chung in 2018, a 16-year-old Sinner was battling away on the junior circuit.

Djokovic’s record in his past 100 tour matches, dating to mid-2022, doesn’t seem real. He’s won 90 of them and lost just 10, including a mind-boggling 39-1 record at the Grand Slams. In that span, just one player boasts multiple wins over him — and that’s Sinner.

You don’t have to rewind too far, either. The world No. 4 beat Djokovic in mid-November in the round-robin stage at the ATP Finals before repeating the feat later that month in a Davis Cup tie. Djokovic still leads the head-to-head 4-2 — one of his wins being the decider of the ATP Finals, sandwiching those aforementioned meetings — but Sinner’s recent success should provide him an enormous amount of confidence heading into this semifinal.

Sinner might well be in the best form of any player of the tournament, having won 15 of 15 sets en route to the last four. In fact, you need to track back to that Davis Cup meeting against Djokovic to find the last set of tennis Sinner lost. Djokovic, on the other hand,…

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