Eight-time champion Novak Djokovic said he was peaking just at the right time Thursday after ending the dream run of Russian qualifier AslanKaratsev to reach his ninth Australian Open final.
The 33-year-old Serb, showing no ill-effects from an abdomen injury sustained in the third round, overwhelmed the 114th-ranked Karatsev 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 53 minutes to reach his 28th Grand Slam final.
“This is the best I’ve felt in the entire tournament,” said Djokovic, who hit 30 winners and 17 aces.
“I could swing through the ball. No pain. The best match so far.”
He added: “Couldn’t be better timing for me to play my best tennis.”
Djokovic, 33, who has never lost an Australian Open final, is one win away from his 18th Grand Slam trophy, snapping at the heels of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who are on 20.
In his way will be fourth seed Daniil Medvedev or Nadal’s conqueror StefanosTsitsipas, the fifth seed, who play their semi-final on Friday.
“I’m going to take the popcorn and enjoy it,” he said. “I absolutely have zero preference.”
“I’m ready for the toughest match of the tournament… both of these guys are in great form,” he added.
“Medvedev is playing extremely high quality. He is the player to beat.
“Tsitsipas produced some phenomenal tennis against Rafa.
“He’s definitely going in the right direction. He has no holes in his game.”
Djokovic remained cagey over his injury, which he first suspected being a torn muscle, saying he would only reveal its extent after the final.
But he said he planned to resume training on Saturday, after being unable to practise between matches because of the injury.
“I am surprised the way I felt tonight. I think it surpassed my greatest wishes,” he said.