Sinner* 4-2 Djokovic. Djokovic shakes his head and looks to the sky when he hits another backhand into the tape. He then hits a crosscourt forehand wide. Murmurs in Rod Laver Arena – they are shocked at this display. Immediately afterwards, another backhand pushed wide. And then Djokovic can’t get his return back, and Sinner holds to love.
Sinner 3-2 Djokovic*. Sinner smashes a forehand winner down the line to go up 0-15, but the Serb hits back with an inside out forehand. Three big serves give Djokovic some breathing room, and at 40-15 he holds. It’s a start, but he’s got lots of work to do.
Sinner* 3-1 Djokovic. Gosh, Sinner starts with an ace and looks all business. Next up, a serve wide to Djokovic’s backhand, and the Serb can’t get it back. Down 30-0, Djokovic seems to have control of the point, then hits a backhand into the net. Sinner holds again, and it’s looking easy.
Sinner 2-1 Djokovic*. Djokovic hits another forehand long, then Sinner gets the better of a rally and finds a winner at the net. It’s 15-30 and again Djokovic is in strife. The next point, a backhand into the tape and it’s 15-40. Seconds later, Djokovic tries to hit a backhand deep, but pushes it too far. Extraordinary, another break!
Sinner* 1-1 Djokovic. Sinner holds comfortably, but there are signs of life from Djokovic. Down 30-0, he finds a 155km/h forehand winner to remind his opponent who he’s playing against. He goes for a backhand down the opposite side the following point that just catches the tape.
Sinner 0-1 Djokovic*. Finally, a straightforward service game from Djokovic, and he goes up early in the second set. It’s just his second hold of the match, and there are concerned looks from Goran Ivanišević and his colleagues in Djokovic’s box.
Djokovic is in a hole. He has 15 unforced errors in that set, compared to just four from Sinner. He’s serving at just 43%, and he’s losing more points on serve than he’s winning.
Rod Laver Arena is shocked by a dominant performance by the Italian. He was untroubled on serve, and broke the world No 1 twice. On his second set point, he powers a serve down the T to take control of the point, and Djokovic hits a forehand long. That’s the Italian’s 16th set in a row at the tournament.
Sinner 5-1 Djokovic*. The world No 1 still doesn’t seem right, and starts the game with a double fault, then he pushes a straightforward backhand wide. At 0-30 again, finally Djokovic hits a strong crosscourt backhand to Sinner’s backhand to win a point. But he goes there again seconds later, and the Italian is ready. Sinner forces an error from Djokovic at the net, and all of a sudden it’s 15-40. Djokovic hits a backhand long, and Sinner has a double break!
*Sinner 4-1 Djokovic. A splendid forehand down the line gets Sinner to 15-0, and then he benefits from a net cord to finish with a volley. His confidence is clearly high, but he tries a drop-shot at 30-0 that doesn’t quite clear the net. Djokovic comes to the net at 40-15 and forces an error from Sinner, but the Italian takes the game with an ace wide on the ad side of the court.
Sinner 3-1 Djokovic*. The Serb looks to be finding his groove, and goes up 30-0 quickly. But Sinner’s baseline defence is forcing the top seed to look for shots. Djokovic misses a forehand to go down 30-40, before winning the following two points. But then he misses a backhand to a similar location. He gets away with the game and is on the board, but it’s a slow start. Djokovic has nine unforced errors.
*Sinner 3-0 Djokovic. Dare we say it? The Italian looks comfortable. An ace puts him up 40-0, and he wins the game not long after. He’s dropped just two points on his serve so far.
Sinner 2-0 Djokovic*. A double fault puts the world No 1 down 0-30, heaping pressure on in his first service game. Djokovic catches the line on an approach in the subsequent point, and finishes with an overhead. But Sinner forces an error on Djokovic’s forehand to go up 30-40. A long rally ends with a winner by the Italian. We have an early break!
*Sinner 1-0 Djokovic. The first point is a long rally, but Sinner finds the net with a backhand. The Italian steadies and goes up 40-15, thanks to a couple of Djokovic unforced errors. In the end, a comfortable hold.
Players are on Rod Laver Arena for this semi-final showdown, Djokovic’s first-ever daytime semi-final at an Australian Open. The Djoker is wearing blue sorts and a white shirt, hatless as always. Sinner has navy shorts and a two-tone shirt, white cap pulled low over his ginger tousles. It’s a full house and we’re in high sun here in Melbourne.
Djokovic beat Sinner in their most recent grand slam meeting. At Wimbledon last year, their semi-final ended in straight sets, before the Serb lost the final to Carlos Alcaraz. Since then however, the Italian has held the upper hand, winning two of their three singles clashes. The last time they played singles, in the Davis Cup semi-finals, Sinner won 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. Both players then backed up in the doubles clash that decided that tie. Italy went on to beat Australia in the final to win the Davis Cup.
Sinner is onto Rod Laver Arena first. Djokovic is out not long after to more cheers, but also more boos. The stadium seats almost 15,000 and it’s quickly filling up. The temperature is forecast to top out at 21 degrees Celsius and we’re pretty much there, with the sun peeping through clouds from time to time. Warm-ups are underway.
22-year-old Sinner looms as Djokovic’s toughest test yet. The Italian is enjoying his best run at the Australian Open, and his equal best run at a slam, after he also reached the semis at Wimbledon last year. He is the only man not to have dropped a set in the tournament so far.
Stop the press! The Australian Open has announced the ball-kids of the tournament. Lucy Higgins wins the top ball-girl, and William Ashcroft is the top ball-boy. Both are grinning wildly in their legionnaires’ hats. We are not far away from Djokovic and Sinner entering Rod Laver Arena.
Hsieh Su-wei and Jan Zieliński are receiving their trophies in a ceremony on Rod Laver Arena. Nine-time doubles grand slam winner Judy Dalton is on hand to present the silverware. To Skupski, Zieliński says: “Sorry, it’s my first time, I’m going to be a little bit more happy this time”. The Polish player says he and Hsieh only teamed up at the last minute, just prior to the tournament. “We found each other on the looking list and it worked out pretty well.”
Djokovic has continued his extraordinary run at the Australian Open this year. The 36-year-old has won the title 10 times, making it by far his most successful slam. In total he has claimed the crown at 24 majors. If he wins today, he will reach his 37th grand slam singles final, and record victory in his 367th grand slam match – tying Serena Williams in second place. Only Roger Federer, with 369, has won more matches at slams.
Along the way, Djokovic has drawn inspiration from some unlikely sources…
The mixed doubles trophy presentation is underway on Rod Laver Arena. Defeated Neal Skupski congratulates Jan Zieliński on his first grand slam title, and to Hsieh Su-wei he says, “you’ve got plenty, and good luck in the women’s final tomorrow”.
Third seeds Hsieh Su-wei and Jan Zieliński have claimed the Australian Open mixed doubles title. The pair overcame 2nd seeds Neal Skupski and Desirae Krawczyk on Rod Laver Arena this afternoon 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 11-9 in one hour and 57 minutes. The Taiwanese-Polish duo had to fight back after losing the first-set, and held their nerve in the match tie-break despite giving up a 6-2 lead. Hsieh has a chance to win another title in the women’s doubles, where she and partner Elise Mertens have reached the final. Their opponents will be decided this afternoon in a semi-final on Margaret Court Arena.
On Thursday, the women’s singles finalists were locked in. Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka ousted 4th seed Coco Gauff 7-6 (2), 6-4 in a high-quality encounter. The Belarusian’s return to the second Saturday at Melbourne Park is no surprise, but her opponent is. 21-year-old Chinese player Qinwen Zheng was seeded 12 for the tournament, but a series of upsets cleared her path to the final, and she is yet to meet another seeded player. Their much-anticipated clash will take place on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night.
Hello from men’s semi-final day at Melbourne Park. This afternoon world No 1 Novak Djokovic takes on 4th seed Jannik Sinner, before Daniil Medvedev (3) and Alexander Zverev (6) meet in the evening session. Djokovic and Sinner are due to take to Rod Laver Arena no earlier than 2.30pm local time. The later match is due to start at 7.30pm at the earliest.