Australian Open, Day 12: Key highlights

Novak Djokovic thrashed practice partner Lucas Pouille in the second semifinal to set up a final clash against Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic and Pouille know each other well from practice sessions but have never faced each other in a competitive match.   -  Getty Images

Welcome to Sportstar's live coverage of the second men's singles semifinal of the Australian Open — Novak Djokovic vs Lucas Pouille.

 

 GAME SET MATCH. Djokovic is through to the final with a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 win against Lucas Pouille. He will face Rafael Nadal on Sunday in the final. The third set took 27 minutes and the whole match got done in 83 minutes.

Pouille has won a second game in the set! That's as many as the first two sets combined. He's 4-2 down right now. To be fair to the 24-year-old Frenchman, this match has been all about Djokovic playing exceptionally than about Pouille falling short. Yes, he could have done better on a few serves and returns but take nothing away from him. Been a fantastic tournament for him to start his season with.

Djokovic is up 3-1 in the third set. Has broken, serve and Pouille's mental strength, again. Has turned out to be a practice match for the Serb ahead of the title clash with Rafael Nadal on Sunday.

Pouille is broken in the final game of the set, again, and Djokovic takes it 6-2. One set away from a place in the final. This set has crossed the half an hour mark, though. 33 minutes, to be exact.

Pouille wins a second (!) game. Down 5-2 in the second set and there's a ball boy on the court who has caught everyone's attention...

 

Another break, another hold and Djokovic is storming ahead in the second set. Has a 4-1 lead.

Pouille wins the first game of the match and he get it with two identical forehand cross court winners. He needed that and going by the crowd's reaction, they also needed that. 1-1 in the second set.

 

His coach Amelie Mauresmo certainly loved that!

 

Djokovic has two set points. Pouille is broken a third time and Djokovic takes the first set 6-0. The top seed takes just 23 minutes to wrap up the first set.

Takes the fifth game to love and the top seed is cruising here.

4-0 lead to Djokovic. Pouille saves one break point but can't save another. Goes wide at baseline and Djokovic has broken him for the second time in four games. Looking all too easy for the Serb.

Three shots, an ace and Djokovic consolidates the break by taking the third game too. Clinical from the World No.1.

Djokovic takes the first game. In the second, he has two breakpoints which Pouille saves and takes to deuce. Djokovic finishes a 24 shot rally with a forehand down the line and a double fault sees him break the Frenchman's serve. 2-0 lead in the first set.

 

Djokovic starts with an ace but Pouille replies by taking the next two points with good rallies. The Frenchman looks ready for the fight!

On this day: In 2015, Djokovic defeated Andy Murray to win the Australian Open. And we got a rather interesting picture on that day.

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Murray looks on as Djokovic holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.   -  Getty Images

 

STAT: Until last night, the crowd at Australian Open numbered a little more than 7,17,000. With three days remaining, including today, we are around 20,000 short of the tournament's record numbers.

 

Pouille has credited coach Amelie Mauresmo for his new-found confidence after a torrid start to the year when he lost four singles matches in a row at the Hopman Cup and in Sydney.

“I think she's bringing a lot of confidence to my game, to my personality, to my state of mind. As I said at the beginning, the goal is not to reach the final, the semifinal, the goal is to improve my tennis, to put into a match what I work on during practice. I'm just trying to focus on my game, not on the consequences and the results.”

Some talking points ahead of the game.

  • Djokovic and Pouille's Australian Open records prior to 2019 couldn’t provide a starker contrast. The Serb has has routinely gone deep while Pouille had never won a previous main draw match.
     
  • The two players are evenly matched, on paper, for serve and groundstroke speed. But the Frenchman has hit almost double the number of winners (295) as Djokovic (148).
     
  • Pouille has spent much longer on court than Djokovic. The 24-year-old Frenchman has spent 15 hours 7 minutes while the World No.1 has spent 10 hours 36 minutes.

Djokovic reached the semifinals when Kei Nishikori retired due to a quad injury, while Pouille had it much harder - spending over three hours in beating 16th seed Milos Raonic in four sets.

ON THIS DAY: In 2003, a 21-year-old Serena Williams completed the 'Serena Slam' at the Australian Open, becoming the reigning champion of all four Grand Slams at the same time.

 

STAT: This is the seventh time Novak Djokovic has advanced to the Australian Open. In his six previous appearances, he went 6-0 and then went on to win the title. Djokovic's record in his last 27 matches against French opposition at the majors? He leads 27-0! Big big challenge ahead for Pouille!

 

 

It it not just the players who are competitive on the court.

 

The women's singles final will be contested by Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova. While Osaka withstood a Karolina Pliskova comeback, two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova had an easier ride against Danielle Collins. Here's a day 11 round-up:

 

The other Australian Open men's singles semifinal which happened yesterday was an incredibly one-sided match. The relentless Rafael Nadal humbled youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas, getting better with each set. Here's the report of that semifinal. Nadal winning titles on hard-courts looked to be a thing of the past but, after a different run to this year's Australian Open final, could it be the start of an unexpected hard-court assault?

 

Top seed Djokovic will be stepping out on Rod Laver Arena in his 34th Grand Slam semifinal, while 28th seed Pouille has never experienced one before. They know each other well from practice sessions but have never played a competitive match. Here's our preview of the upcoming Australian Open semifinal.

 

RESULTS (Men's and women's singles semifinals)

Men's: Rafael Nadal bt Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0

Women's: Petra Kvitova bt Danielle Rose Collins 7-6, 6-0, Naomi Osaka bt Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.