Top seed Novak Djokovic battled past dangerous Canadian Denis Shapovalov with a high-octane performance Friday to set up an Adelaide International semi-final with former world number one Daniil Medvedev.
The Serbian, bidding for a 92nd career title in preparation for the Australian Open this month, overcame early wobbles before hitting his stride to win 6-3, 6-4.
He now meets Medvedev, runner-up at the last two Grand Slams in Melbourne, who proved too strong for compatriot Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-3.
“I think the scoreline probably doesn’t give you the right idea of what happened on the court, it was such a close match – two hours for two sets,” Djokovic said.
“The first set was extremely exhausting for both of us, we pushed each other to the limit physically... I’m definitely pleased with the way I fought tonight.”
He had a shaky start, going two break points down in a long first game.
But he recovered to hold and after a nearby fireworks display interrupted play for five minutes, he began to get the Canadian’s measure and broke for 5-3 before serving out the set.
Djokovic raced 3-1 ahead in the second set and it looked all over, but Shapovalov rallied before the 35-year-old extended his career record over his opponent to 8-0.
Little separated Medvedev and Khachanov through their first six games before Medvedev reeled off 12 of 15 points to break twice and land the opening set.
Khachanov opened up a 3-1 lead in the second but couldn’t sustain the pressure as Medvedev came storming back.
“Never easy to play your compatriot. I’m happy that I really managed to raise my level, particularly in the end of both sets and really happy to be through to the semis,” said third-seeded Medvedev.
“I’m playing well right now and honestly that’s all that matters.”
Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka also progressed, outlasting Australian Alexei Popyrin 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (8/10), 6-2 to continue his fine early season form, having already upset world number 11 Holger Rune.
It set up a semi-final against American Sebastian Korda after his 7-5, 6-1 win over sixth seed Jannik Sinner 7-5, 6-1, who received treatment to his hip at the end of the first set and appeared hampered in the second.
Jabeur headlines women’s winners
Women’s top seed Ons Jabeur went 3-0 behind in the first set against Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, but rallied to win 7-6 (7/5), 7-5.
“I didn’t start the way I wanted to... I just kept telling myself to put two or three balls in to get in the game,” said Jabeur. “I’m pretty happy I didn’t go three sets with her.”
The Tunisian will take on rising Czech teen Linda Noskova for a place in the final after she outlasted veteran Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (8/6).
World number five Aryna Sabalenka held off Marketa Vondrousova to book her place in the last four.
The Belarusian overcame hot conditions to dismiss her Czech opponent 6-3, 7-5 and continue her strong 2022 late-season form where she finished runner-up at the WTA Finals.
The second seed’s reward is a last-four clash with Romanian veteran Irina-Camelia Begu, who upset Russian world number nine Veronika Kudermetova 7-5, 6-4.
“I think because I’m staying really calm and I feel like I’m at home here, that’s why I play really well,” said Sabalenka. “I haven’t dropped a set yet. Hopefully, I’ll keep going like that.”
The Australian Open starts in less than two weeks.