No need to discard Jason Holder as Test captain.

    How do we evaluate a captain? Do we use their win-loss record? Do we judge their on-field performances? West Indies Test captain Jason Holder should continue as the team’s leader despite calls for Kraigg Brathwaite to replace him at the helm.

The calls have come after Brathwaite led the squad to victory over Bangladesh in a two-Test series two weeks ago while Holder opted not to tour due to health and safety concerns.

 Changing captains is not the answer to the West Indies’ problems and if the selectors were to do so it would be a very rash and irresponsible decision. It would also amount to a knee-jerk reaction.

When Holder was selected to be Test captain in 2015, it was purported as a “long-term” appointment. By replacing Holder with Brathwaite after success in one Test series, the selectors run the risk of undermining Holder’s confidence by bringing into question his ability to lead. Nothing good would come from that.

 It would be inaccurate and quite unfair to say Holder has had no success as captain as he did win the Wisden Trophy in 2019.

The 29-year-old Holder has grown as a cricketer and is one of the world’s leading Test cricketers, ranked third on the all-rounder’s chart, 11th in bowling and 43rd in the batting rankings.

He has a lot to offer to the team and each player can learn from his exploits in different formats and levels of the game.

It is also key to note that just recently, Kraigg Brathwaite was stripped of the vice-captaincy and told to focus on improving his game.

The Windies will be confident going into their series against Sri Lanka. So instead of causing unnecessary division within the team by changing captains, each player should be encouraged to learn from the other and cooperation should be encouraged.

Both Holder and Brathwaite can work alongside each other. Holder could learn a thing or two from Brathwaite and vice versa.

 So instead of focusing on who should be captain, the focus should be on building around the core and planning for the future.

 

 The NBA All-Star Game should be cancelled.

 

The 2021 All-Star Game was initially cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic but the NBA has reversed the decision and decided to hold a one-night event in Atlanta on March 7, despite public objection from players.

Despite players like LA Lakers star LeBron James coming out and voicing his displeasure with the league’s decision saying that he will be there physically but not mentally, the NBA’s persistence in continuing with the All-Star Game, gives the impression that player safety and concerns are being overlooked in the name of profit.

The All-Star Weekend provides fans with the ability to interact tradition with their favourite players. However, the fact that Covid-19 has prevented fans from being at the games undermines the need this season.

We live in unprecedented times and the safety and health of the players should be of paramount importance, and it is not unreasonable to believe that the All-Star Game could trigger virus clusters that put even more players at risk.

 

Is all this worth risking the rest of the NBA season?

 Novak Djokovic is unstoppable!  Novak Djokovic extended his dominance at the Australian Open beating Daniil Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2 to secure his18th Grand Slam title.

The 33-year-old Djokovic dispensed of his opponent in an hour and 53 minutes to claim his ninth Australian Open title and move with two of the number of titles won by both Roger Federer’s and Rafael Nadal.

Not even an abdominal injury suffered earlier in the tournament could prevent the Joker from continuing his relentless march to catch up with his two contemporaries.

Congratulations!

Novak Djokovic believes he silenced his critics by triumphing at the Australian Open after finishing the tournament with a torn oblique muscle. 

Djokovic clinched a record-extending ninth Australian Open title and 18th major overall with a 7-5 6-2 6-2 thrashing of Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev on Sunday. 

The Serbian faced criticism before the tournament over a list of requests for players who were in quarantine due to coronavirus, while also being questioned over the severity of the oblique injury suffered during a third-round win over Taylor Fritz. 

Djokovic felt the backlash was unfair, but believes he answered in the best way possible by winning the title in Melbourne again. 

"Of course, it's not nice to hear that. I mean, it also seems unfair from some people that kind of criticise and judge without really checking before," the world number one told a news conference. 

"But as I said, it's not really the first time. I have so much experience with this because it happened so many times in my life, in my career, that I experience that. It will probably not be the last one. 

"Look, at the end of the day everyone who has the stage has the right to say what they want to say. It's a matter on my side whether I'm going to react or not, in which way I'm going to react. I didn't allow it to hinder my performance. I think winning the trophy is in a way my answer."

After taking a two-sets-to-love lead against Fritz, Djokovic suffered the oblique injury. He was forced to a decider by the American before eventually managing to advance. 

Djokovic said afterwards he had torn a muscle and may need to pull out of the tournament, although was unwilling to give too much away as the event went on. 

The 33-year-old, though, said after his win on Sunday that he had torn his abdominal oblique muscle. 

"It is a tear, a muscle tear, of the abdominal oblique muscle. I felt it right away when it happened against Fritz in the third round. That's what I said in the post-match interview. I was kind of guessing, but I felt just that it's a tear because of the snap and the way I felt after that," Djokovic said. 

"I know there's been a lot of speculation, people questioning whether I'm injured, how can I recover so quickly, it's impossible to do that. I get it. I mean, look, everyone is entitled for their own opinion, and everybody has the freedom and the right to say what they want, criticise others. I just felt like it was a bit unfair at times. But, hey, it's not the first nor the last time. 

"What we have done in the past nine, 10 days, you'll get a chance to see in detail probably at the end of this year when the documentary comes out.   

"I've been filming a lot of things that I've been doing here, but also in the previous months, six months. We're planning to take that documentary out end of this year. You will be able to see more of the routine of recovery, stuff that was going on behind the curtain."

Daniil Medvedev entered the Australian Open final in red-hot form and with a strong recent record against Novak Djokovic – yet he still fell well short.

Djokovic's record-extending ninth Australian Open title and 18th major overall came in comprehensive fashion with a 7-5 6-2 6-2 thrashing of Medvedev at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

Medvedev was on a 20-match winning streak that included 12 victories over top-10 players, including Djokovic - who he had beaten in three of their previous four meetings. Still, the Russian was still dismantled.

Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have now won 10 of the past 11 grand slams. The other was Dominic Thiem's success last year at the US Open, where Djokovic stunningly defaulted in the fourth round and Nadal and Roger Federer were absent.

The 'Big Four' became the 'Big Three' following Andy Murray's injury woes, and that may now be the 'Big Two'.

Federer shares the men's grand slam record with Nadal on 20, but the last of those for the Swiss great came in 2018 and the 39-year-old has missed the past three majors.

Djokovic, 33, and Nadal, 34, have shown few signs of slowing down. With the Serbian dominating in Melbourne and the Spaniard continuing to own Roland Garros, they seem to have at least one grand slam each locked away every year.

After his loss on Sunday, Medvedev said of the trio of greats: "Nothing else to say than they are undoubtedly, I don't think anyone can argue with this, the three biggest names in tennis history. I'm talking only about results. I'm not talking off court, game. I'm talking about results. What they did in tennis is unbelievable for me.

"I'm 25 now. To win nine Australian Opens, I need to win every year until I'm 34. I mean, I believe in myself, but I don't think I'm able to do it. Same with Rafa. I mean, 13 Roland Garros... We're talking about some cyborgs of tennis in a good way. They're just unbelievable.

"When I'm out there, I'm not thinking, 'Okay, they are too strong for me.' I always want to win. I beat some of them in some big tournaments, like London [the ATP Finals] for example. I just need to be better next time in the grand slam finals against these two guys or Roger."

Thiem took his chance and landed a major at Flushing Meadows, while he has shaped as the most likely successor to Nadal in Paris, where he lost finals in 2018 and 2019. Medvedev has found his rhythm and Sunday's defeat was his second in a major decider.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2020 US Open runner-up Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini look like potential threats, while Canadian pair Denis Shapovalov, 21, and Felix Auger-Aliassime, 20, continue improving.

But Medvedev looked more than capable of ending Djokovic's incredible record in Melbourne before falling well short, showing potential challengers they still have a way to go if they are to finally stop the all-time greats.

Daniil Medvedev rued a below-par performance after his Australian Open final loss to Novak Djokovic.

In his second grand slam decider, Medvedev was well beaten 7-5 6-2 6-2 by Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday, seeing his 20-match winning streak ended.

Medvedev had his chances against the world number one, but Djokovic stepped up in key moments to win a record-extending ninth Australian Open title.

The Russian fourth seed felt his performance was average in the final as he mixed 24 winners with 30 unforced errors.

"I don't like to lose matches. Doesn't matter if it's a first round or a final of a grand slam. Of course, it's just that feeling that you're closer to hold the trophy than when you lose the first round," Medvedev told a news conference.

"Talking about the match, it's tough, just when you lost to reconsider straightaway. But I feel like it's the kind of matches I won throughout this tournament that he won today.

" I was there in the first set, I was up a break in the second, but in the end I lost in three sets where I didn't play bad but I didn't play my best level. Probably he made his game that good today that I couldn't stay at my best level.

"Yeah, I obviously thought about [Andrey] Rublev and [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, both amazing top-10 players, and I won with a similar score where they were playing good, but I felt like I was better. So today was the case for Novak.

"I cannot say much better than this. He was better than me today. I could have done things for sure better today, but I didn't manage to. That's why I don't have the trophy."

Medvedev recovered from 3-0 down to draw level in the first set before being broken in the 12th game, while he gave up a break lead in the second.

The 25-year-old was unsure whether his performance was down to a bad day, or Djokovic's display.

"That's where it's tough to say because I don't know 100 per cent. I feel like I for sure could have played better. Especially looking at the matches where I played him," Medvedev said.

"At the same time there is always a question maybe he was not that good the other matches I played him because it's always day by day. You know the question is how did he manage to win here nine times out of nine? Probably all the nine times he was better than his opponent.

"I don't have an answer to this question. He definitely was good. I definitely could have done better. But even if I would have done better, doesn't mean that the score would be different.

"Today we have this score. I'm the loser; he's the winner. That's the point."

Daniil Medvedev was gracious in defeat to an inspired Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open final on Sunday.

A contest billed as a potential classic was over in one hour and 53 minutes as Djokovic claimed a ninth title in Melbourne and 18th career major.

The world number one, who lost to Medvedev at the ATP Finals last year, triumphed 7-5 6-2 6-2 to extend his record to nine victories and zero defeats in the final of this tournament and close to within two grand slams of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Medvedev was disappointed he could not prolong the contest but had nothing but praise for Djokovic on and off the court, a player he described as "a god to me".

The Russian said: "I first practiced with Novak when I was like 500 or 600 in the world in Monaco and he was already number one, he'd just won Wimbledon. I thought, 'There's no way he's gonna speak to me.' The guy was a god to me.

"I was really shy. He was talking to me like I was a friend. He's never changed, whether I'm 600 in the world or four in the world, he's always been a great sport and a great friend.

"I really wanted to make this match longer and more entertaining for you. Today was not the day."

Djokovic was similarly full of praise for Medvedev, who had been on a 20-match winning streak heading into the final.

The Serbian fully expects Medvedev to become a major winner in future, although he hopes to add a few more to his collection first.

"You're a class act, a great guy," Djokovic said. "We used to spend more time together. You're not calling me any more in the last few years! But it's nice you're thinking good things about me.

"I really like Daniil off the court, but on the court, he's definitely one of the toughest players I faced in my life. It's a matter of time before you're holding a grand slam, for sure, if you don't mind waiting a few years!"

After a difficult build-up to the tournament, in which Djokovic lobbied for an easing of certain restrictions on players forced to quarantine in hotels after arriving in Australia, he credited authorities for ensuring a smooth running of events in Melbourne.

"There are a lot mixed feelings about what happened in the last month or so, but I think in the end it was a successful tournament for everyone," he said.

"It wasn't easy, it was very challenging on many different levels, but they [Tennis Australia] should be proud of themselves for what they put together and allowing us to come to Australia.

"I'd like to thank the Rod Laver Arena. I love you each year more and more. The love affair keeps going."

Novak Djokovic continued his dominance of the Australian Open, winning the grand slam for a record ninth time on Sunday.

The Serbian star claimed his 18th grand slam crown with a 7-5 6-2 6-2 dismantling of Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Djokovic became just the second man to win a major at least nine times, with only Rafael Nadal (13 French Open titles) also managing that feat.

We take a look back at all of his Australian Open successes.

2008 – A maiden grand slam title

Aged 20, this was Djokovic's fourth main-draw appearance in Melbourne and his previous best had been the fourth round the year prior.

But he produced a flying run to the final, beating Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets in the last 16 and top seed Federer in the semis.

Djokovic, the third seed, was left with a surprise opponent in the final and he made the most of his chance, coming from a set down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

It was the first grand slam since the 2005 Australian Open not won by either Federer or Nadal.

2011 – The beginning of complete Melbourne dominance

Djokovic had to wait three years for his second title in Melbourne, but it started a wonderful run of dominance.

He was largely untouchable again on his way to the final, including wins over top-10 seeds Tomas Berdych and Federer.

Djokovic crushed Andy Murray 6-4 6-2 6-3 in the decider to win the first of an incredible three grand slams in 2011.

 

2012 – Coming through two epics

This would be a major best remembered for two matches – Djokovic's semi and final.

He took almost five hours to get past Murray in the last four in a match that seemed certain to ruin his chances in the decider.

Somehow, Djokovic came through that too, beating Nadal 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 in the longest Open Era grand slam final, which went for a gruelling five hours, 53 minutes.

2013 – Hat-trick complete

Djokovic extended his winning streak at the Australian Open to 21 matches with a third straight title.

He became the first man in the Open Era to win a hat-trick of titles in Melbourne.

Djokovic took five hours to get past Stan Wawrinka – the man who would break his run the following year – in the fourth round before again beating Murray in a final.

 

2015 – Another Wawrinka marathon, another Murray final

Fernando Verdasco and Milos Raonic were unable to stop Djokovic and, this time, Wawrinka failed too.

Djokovic beat the Swiss star in a five-set semi-final before a familiar face stood between him and another title.

Murray managed to split the first two sets, but Djokovic ran away with it from there 6-3 6-0 for a fifth crown.

2016 ­– Record equalled after Simon scare

It was the fourth round that proved to be the biggest scare in Djokovic's bid for a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title.

But he got through another gruelling five-setter, this time against French 14th seed Gilles Simon.

Kei Nishikori, Federer and Murray were unable to stop him from there as Djokovic joined Roy Emerson on six Australian Open crowns.
 

2019 – Record claimed in flawless fashion

For a six-time champion and the world number one, this seemed like a quiet run by Djokovic.

He dispatched of up-and-comers Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev, spent less than an hour on court with an exhausted Nishikori and was almost flawless against Lucas Pouille.

Only Nadal stood between him and a record seventh Australian Open title in a repeat of their epic 2012 final.

And Djokovic may have saved his best performance for the final, dismantling Nadal in just over two hours.

2020 – Thiem test survived to close in on Federer, Nadal

Djokovic entered the tournament on the back of six impressive singles wins at the ATP Cup.

After a brief first-round hiccup against Jan-Lennard Struff, Djokovic cruised into the quarter-finals.

He continued his dominance of Milos Raonic with a 10th win in as many meetings with the Canadian and then brushed a hurt Federer aside.

Thiem, playing his third major final, was a huge test, but Djokovic survived after almost four hours to extend his record in Melbourne. It was his 17th major title, moving closer to the tallies of Federer (20) and Nadal (19), as he reclaimed the number one ranking.

2021 – Injury threatens run before powerful finish

It was a largely uneventful start for Djokovic before suffering a suspected abdominal injury in the third round against Taylor Fritz.

He looked at risk of defeat despite taking the first two sets as Fritz fought back, but Djokovic looked healthy again in the fifth to win through.

Djokovic beat Raonic for the 12th straight time and then overcame Alexander Zverev, before finding good form in a semi-final thrashing of qualifier Aslan Karatsev.

He dropped five sets in his opening six matches, the most he has lost prior to the final in the 28 occasions he has made the decider at a slam.

Medvedev was on a 20-match winning streak heading into the final, but Djokovic stepped up on the court he loves.

Novak Djokovic secured his 18th grand slam title with a resounding straight-sets win over Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final on Sunday.

The Serbian star closed to within two major crowns of men's record holders Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal after impressively beating Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2 in one hour, 53 minutes in cool conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic, who suffered a suspected abdominal injury earlier in the tournament, showed just why he is the king of Melbourne, where he clinched a record-extending ninth Australian Open title.

The world number one produced a classic display of returning and again stepped up in key moments, in contrast to Medvedev.

Carrying a 20-match winning streak into the decider, Medvedev – playing his second grand slam final – made errors at important stages despite holding his own from the baseline for large parts against an opponent he had beaten in three of their previous four meetings.

Medvedev made a nervous and wayward start and was broken in the second game, but he quickly responded, pulling the break back in the fifth game, one marked by a grinding baseline exchange at 15-30 before Djokovic put an overhead into the net.

Both players held with relative comfort until Djokovic landed the key blow to take the first set, the Serbian fans in Rod Laver Arena rising to their feet after Medvedev sent a forehand into the net.

The pair traded breaks again to begin the second set, this time Djokovic recovering from dropping serve, and he won four straight games after Medvedev faltered in a sloppy fourth game.

Djokovic produced a tough hold for 5-2, a moment that led to an increasingly frustrated Medvedev – struggling to come up with answers – to smash his racquet at the back of the court before losing the second set.

Medvedev squandered another chance as Djokovic dug himself out of a 15-40 hole in the opening game of the third set and then broke, the Russian netting a volley after a wild double fault.

In yet another key moment, Djokovic held from 15-30 in the seventh game in front of a crowd baying for more tennis, before going on to see out his historic success.

 

Data Slam: History for the king of Melbourne

Djokovic's ninth Australian Open title saw him become just the second man to win a major at least nine times. He joined Nadal, who has owned the French Open with 13 titles. That pair have won 10 of the past 11 grand slam crowns, as the 'Big Three', or 'Big Two', continue their dominance.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 20/17
Medvedev – 24/30

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 3/2
Medvedev – 6/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 7/11
Medvedev – 2/4

Daniil Medvedev goes into Sunday's Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic in incredible form.

The Russian star extended his winning streak to 20 matches with a straight-sets victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals on Friday.

Medvedev became the 25th man in the Open Era to record a Tour-level winning streak of 20 matches. He is the sixth active player to manage the feat, joining Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro.

The 25-year-old's run has not only been utterly dominant, but also included some rather impressive wins.

Of his 20 victories, 12 have come against top-10 players, including Djokovic. Since November, Medvedev has beaten every other member of the top 10 except Federer, who has been out of action.

"It's great to know this. It's a pity that Roger is not playing. I would love to have played him. I'm not saying anything. I just would love to play against him. I mean, to play against Roger is always a privilege. Against Novak, Rafa, Roger," Medvedev said after his win over Tsitsipas.

"But it's great to hear this. I mean, happy about myself, because I remember one moment when I was already playing quite good I actually was struggling with the top-10 guys when I was maybe around top 20 or top 30.

"It's great to hear this and I'm really happy about it."

Along with Djokovic and Nadal, Medvedev's run has also included wins over Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev (three times), Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini and Tsitsipas.

In his 20-match streak, Medvedev has won 44 sets and lost just seven, and two of those were in his five-set victory over Filip Krajinovic in the third round.

Medvedev has won three of his past four meetings with Djokovic, who edges their overall head-to-head 4-3.

His run will have Medvedev full of confidence as he bids to win a first grand slam title, needing to overcome the record eight-time champion in Melbourne to do so.

Novak Djokovic will take the advantage of having an extra day's rest into the Australian Open final against the red-hot Daniil Medvedev.

Djokovic is set to compete in his 28th grand slam final and ninth in Melbourne as the Serbian star eyes an 18th major title on Sunday.

The 33-year-old looked in good form in a semi-final thrashing of Aslan Karatsev on Thursday – 24 hours before Medvedev impressively dispatched of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

For the second year in a row, Djokovic will have an extra day's rest over his opponent ahead of the decider.

Since 2000, players who have had the extra day's rest have won 12 and lost nine of the 21 finals. Djokovic has had the slight advantage four times – and four times he has not – and won all eight finals.

Given he has battled a suspected abdominal injury at this year's tournament, the additional day could be an important factor for Djokovic.

He faces Medvedev, who is on a 20-match winning streak that has included 12 victories over top-10 players.

The latest of those was a 6-4 6-2 7-5 mauling of Tsitsipas in their semi-final on Friday.

A key for Medvedev in that success, in which he endured a third-set blip, was that it came in two hours, nine minutes.

Since 2000, men who won the second semi-final in less than three hours are 6-5 in deciders. That record drops to 3-7 when the last-four clash has exceeded three hours.

Of the three that have managed it after marathon wins, Djokovic achieved it twice – in 2012 and 2015, while Rafael Nadal was the other in 2009, when he beat Roger Federer in the final after winning an epic against Fernando Verdasco.

It leaves the extra day's rest likely to be less of a factor on Sunday as both men chase history.

Entering Australian Open final with an extra day's rest since 2000
2020: Novak Djokovic (won against Dominic Thiem)
2019: Rafael Nadal (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2018: Marin Cilic (lost against Roger Federer)
2017: Roger Federer (won against Rafael Nadal)
2016: Novak Djokovic (won against Andy Murray)
2015: Andy Murray (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2014: Stan Wawrinka (won against Rafael Nadal)
2013: Novak Djokovic (won against Andy Murray)
2012: Rafael Nadal (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2011: Novak Djokovic (won against Andy Murray)
2010: Andy Murray (lost against Roger Federer)
2009: Roger Federer (lost against Rafael Nadal)
2008: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (lost against Novak Djokovic)
2007: Roger Federer (won against Fernando Gonzalez)
2006: Marcos Baghdatis (lost against Roger Federer)
2005: Marat Safin (won against Lleyton Hewitt)
2004: Marat Safin (lost against Roger Federer)
2003: Andre Agassi (won against Rainer Schuttler)
2002: Thomas Johansson (won against Marat Safin)
2001: Andre Agassi (won against Arnaud Clement)
2000: Andre Agassi (won against Yevgeny Kafelnikov)
Wins: 12 Losses: 9

Daniil Medvedev believes he has "nothing to lose" in Sunday's Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic.

Medvedev reached his second grand slam decider after an impressive 6-4 6-2 7-5 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in their last-four clash in Melbourne on Friday.

The Russian fourth seed became the 25th man in the Open Era to record a Tour-level winning streak of 20 as he continued his incredible form.

Medvedev said in an on-court interview all the pressure in the final would be on Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open a record eight times.

Despite seeking his maiden grand slam crown, the 25-year-old – who has won three of his past four meetings with Djokovic – said he had nothing to lose in the final.

"I think he's the favourite because he didn't lose. In eight occasions that he was here in the semis he won the tournament. Me, I'm, how you can call it, I don't know how you call it in English, not an outsider, but I'm the challenger, the guy that challenges the guy who was eight times in the final and won eight times. And I'm happy about it," Medvedev told a news conference.

"I like to play against Novak. We have, since the first one when I was ranked 60, we had always tough matches physically, mentally. And he's one of the greatest tennis players in the history of tennis. So playing the final against him is superb. I'm really happy about it. Let's see what happens on Sunday.

"When I say no pressure, for sure when we get out there we both feel pressure. I want to win my first one. He wants to win number 18. We don't know for who the crowd is going to be. It's all the small details.

"I think if we talk in general, well, I have nothing to lose, to be honest."

Medvedev hit 46 winners and 21 unforced errors against Tsitsipas, overcoming a third-set blip to close out his victory.

As the Rod Laver Arena crowd attempted to get Tsitsipas back into the contest, Medvedev claimed a key break in the 11th game of the third set with a tremendous backhand pass down the line, which he celebrated with a dance.

"They [the crowd] were mostly for him, and that was, you know, the moment that I won the match, we should say. Of course you have to serve after, but that was important moment. So I wanted them to recognise me, I would say, because the shot was unbelievable, I think one of my best shots in my career," Medvedev said.

"Actually, my legs were facing the other way of the court because I didn't have time, so I have no idea how I made this, and I was really happy about it."

Novak Djokovic believes he is peaking at the perfect time at the Australian Open after feeling the best he has all tournament in the semi-finals.

Djokovic brushed past Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev 6-3 6-4 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday, reaching his ninth decider in Melbourne.

The Serbian has won the tournament every time he has been to the semi-finals, although worries over a suspected abdominal injury had cast doubt over his ability to win an 18th major title on Sunday.

But Djokovic, who has refused to detail the extent of his injury, said he was hitting top form at the right time ahead of facing either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

"Well, first I want to give credit to Karatsev for a great tournament.  Maybe it wasn't his day today but he had big wins and debut, first grand slam semi-finals. Kudos for a great result," he told a news conference.

"I felt the best I felt so far in the tournament tonight. Physically, mentally, as well. I was hitting the ball very well, mixing the pace. Didn't give him the same looks at all. Always kind of kept him guessing and served well when I needed to get out of the trouble, you know, late in the second set. I'm just very pleased with the performance.

"It came at the right time. Before the last match in a grand slam, couldn't be a better timing for me to play my best tennis. But being in this situation before many times I think helps kind of gather all the necessary elements for me to peak at the right time, which is happening again, which I'm obviously very happy about.

"I'm also happy that I have two days off now. Still recovery is the priority.  I've played enough tennis. I'm feeling great on the court. Regardless of who I face on Sunday, I'm ready for the battle for the toughest match of the tournament, without a doubt."

As Djokovic prepares for his 28th grand slam final, he will face either Medvedev in his second or Tsitsipas in his first.

Djokovic said his incredible record at the Australian Open lifted his confidence, and potentially played on the minds of his opponents.

"Well, of course it contributes to more confidence, prior to coming into the finals knowing that I never lost in the finals or semi-finals just makes me feel more comfortable being on the court," he said.

"But each year is different, although it does have a mental effect on me, maybe on my opponents, I don't know, but on me it does definitely have a positive effect. It's not a decisive factor in the way the match is going to go forward, because as I said, each year is different. Surface is also different. You know, you play against also different opponents. So that's not gonna be decisive factor I think on Sunday.

"Regardless of my great record I think both Tsitsipas and Medvedev will want to get their first grand slam title. I'm sure that they are going to do their best, so I'll be ready for that."

Novak Djokovic ended Aslan Karatsev's dream run to reach his ninth Australian Open final on Thursday.

Djokovic, who has been dealing with an abdominal injury in Melbourne, brushed past qualifier Karatsev 6-3 6-4 6-2 in their semi-final on Rod Laver Arena.

The world number one has won the Australian Open every time he has reached the semi-finals, and he is on track again ahead of facing either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's decider.

Djokovic moved into his 28th grand slam final – a tally bettered only by Roger Federer (31) – as he targets an 18th major title.

Karatsev held his own in the early baseline exchanges and dug himself out of a 0-30 hole in the sixth game.

But he could not deny Djokovic in his next service game, broken to love when he pulled a backhand wide as the Serbian won 10 straight points and the set.

Djokovic broke again in the third game of the second set following a Karatsev double fault, and a fortunate net cord saw him into a 4-1 lead as he took complete control.

Karatsev got one of the breaks back and pushed for the other, but Djokovic – who had won all 19 of his previous meetings with qualifiers at grand slams – closed out the second set.

Just as Karatsev seemed to be working his way back into the contest and the duo exchanged breaks to begin the third, Djokovic took a 3-2 lead as he won the final four games of the match.

 

Data Slam: Age still no barrier for Djokovic
Djokovic became the first man in the Open Era to reach three Australian Open finals after turning 30. The 33-year-old has dominated in Melbourne, and his run continues.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 30/14
Karatsev – 24/30

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 17/2
Karatsev – 6/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 6/7
Karatsev – 2/5

Novak Djokovic has claimed the "majority" of tennis players are opposed to playing on tour this season if quarantining before tournaments becomes the norm.

The world number one made his stunning claim after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals with a four-set win over Alexander Zverev, moving a step closer to a ninth title at the event.

Djokovic is battling an abdominal injury and he pointed to problems that have affected the likes of Rafael Nadal, Matteo Berrettini and Grigor Dimitrov during their time in Australia.

He stressed that being locked down in hotel rooms as they were in Australia - in some cases being strictly confined for 14 days - was "definitely not good" for the physical health of players.

He is proposing, casually for now, that tennis considers a bubble system whereby one venue stages a string of tournaments, meaning players would not have to travel from country to country and each time need to abide by different COVID-19 rules.

"I don't want to sit here and complain about what we have been through, but we have to be honest and realistic that it has an effect on the physical well-being of players. Of course also mental, emotional, but physically this is not normal," Djokovic said.

"We are hoping that it's temporary. But talking to a lot of players, the majority of the players just don't want to go ahead with the season if we are going to have to quarantine most of the tournaments.

"So this is something that should be discussed, as of now."

Djokovic is a former president of the ATP player council, resigning before last year's US Open to lead the breakaway Professional Tennis Players Association.

The 17-time major winner may be a divisive figure to some, but he is determined to be involved in the big decisions.

He said he had held conversations with members of the player council, who in turn had spoken to ATP management.

"I'm waiting for some answers. I want to understand how our continuation of the season post-Australia is going to look like, because this definitely is not good for players in terms of their well-being," the 33-year-old Serbian said.

He said players had turned out for the Australian Open because of the large prize money on offer, tolerating the fortnight in quarantine because of the subsequent rewards, but said prize money cuts at other tournaments would make many think twice.

There have been "a lot of complaints" from lower-ranked players, Djokovic said.

"We have to find a way, whether it's something like an NBA bubble, because I heard some players talk about that, and I don't mind to discuss about that kind of idea," Djokovic said, referring to last season's NBA bubble at Walt Disney World, Florida, where the basketball season was able to be completed.

"Select one place and we play all the tournaments on that surface and that place. Three, four weeks in, three, four, two, three weeks' rest, then back again. Something like that."

Djokovic offered no suggestion players would consider skipping the grand slams that remain in 2021 - the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

But he said: "We also have to be realistic that what we are experiencing here in Australia is far better than what most of Europe is going through in terms of restrictions and rules and regulations and quarantines, et cetera.

"And most of the season will continue on in Europe, actually."

He says players can cope with being away from family, if rules are implemented to mean player entourages must be small, but hotel room quarantines are another matter.

"I have been hearing that there are some countries that don't want to accept people coming in from some specific countries because of the virus strains, different virus strains, so forth, and transmission, and God knows what," Djokovic said.

"I don't know how we're gonna handle with that, honestly. But we have to address this very quickly, I mean, because the season already started."

Djokovic, meanwhile, moves on to a clash with qualifier Aslan Karatsev, the 27-year-old Russian revelation of the tournament.

It took an explosion of anger from Djokovic, when trailing 3-1 in the third set against Zverev, to give him the spur to see off the German.

He smashed a racket so hard it left debris on the court that a ball girl was summoned to sweep up.

Djokovic said: "Of course I'm not proud of these kind of moments. To me it happens and then today it actually helped, even though I don't intentionally do it in order for it to help me. I just kind of let it go. Poor racket."

Novak Djokovic lost his temper but refused to let the prospect of Australian Open glory slip away as he edged out Alexander Zverev to reach the semi-finals.

The world number one destroyed a racket when trailing 3-1 in the third set, after he and Zverev split the opening two sets, and it was one of a number of moments when the Serbian showed heightened volatility during a 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 6-4 7-6 (8-6) win.

Still bothered by an abdominal problem that he sustained in the third round, Djokovic nevertheless strides on and will face Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev for a place in the final.

Zverev, who played in a bright yellow headband and vest top, with a gold medallion hanging from his neck, will look back on an opportunity missed.

As well as that third-set lead, Zverev was also up a break at the start of the fourth, but the US Open runner-up lacked the composure to convert those hard-earned positions.

If Djokovic's racket-smashing was a tactical move designed to gee himself up and distract Zverev, then it worked a treat.

A nip-and-tuck opener had gone the way of German world number seven Zverev, who then made a wretched start to the second set and was 4-0 behind in the blink of an eye.

Just as momentum began to swing back Zverev's way in the third, Djokovic went into his rage, with a ball girl summoned to clear up the mess the 33-year-old created.

Back came Djokovic as double faults began to leak from Zverev's racket, and soon they were into a fourth set.

Zverev led 3-0 but Djokovic was not going away, seizing on mistakes from an opponent who by the end of the second tie-break of the match could only wonder what might have been.

An ace from Djokovic finished off the contest. After eight titles at Melbourne Park, a hunger for more continues to define his every performance in Australia.

"Emotionally I feel a little bit drained. We pushed each other to the limit," Djokovic said in his on-court interview.

"Other than in the second set I started pretty poorly in all the other three sets. I lost my service very early in the first, third and fourth and allowed him to swing through the ball a bit more, but I regained my focus.

"I broke that racket and things started to shift a little bit for me in a positive direction."

Novak Djokovic fought into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open despite concerns over a muscle injury, seeing off Milos Raonic in four sets.

Djokovic's hopes of defending his title appeared to be in doubt when he said he had a "muscle tear" and was unsure whether he would play the fourth-round clash.

But his history of dominance over Raonic was perhaps a motivating factor in him taking to the court and he stretched his head to head lead to 12-0 with his 300th grand slam win, becoming only the second player in history to reach the landmark.

He did not have it all his own way, a spirited Raonic levelling matters in the second set after losing the first on a tie-break.

However, Djokovic was in control thereafter, progressing 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-1 6-4, though a last-eight meeting with Alexander Zverev may prove a sterner test.

Djokovic made it eight wins in nine in tie-breaks with Raonic to take the first set and things looked bleak for the Canadian when he received treatment on his foot in the second set.

But that break proved just the tonic for Raonic as he went on to win a set against Djokovic for the first time in four grand slam meetings.

Yet the tide turned emphatically back in Djokovic's favour in the third – the Serbian winning five straight games to move into a 2-1 lead.

His success came through a familiar strategy against a player of Raonic's power on serve.

Djokovic wasted few opportunities to punish the second serve and consistently took Raonic out of his comfort zone by forcing him into long rallies.

Raonic, to his credit, did save four break points in the fourth set but the dam finally burst and he could not prevent Djokovic from snatching the fifth chance that came his way, the world number one ensuring there was to be no shock as he reached another milestone in a remarkable career.

Data Slam: Djokovic's delightful dozen

Djokovic is through to a 12th quarter-final in Melbourne, the eight-time winner last failing to reach the stage in 2018, when he lost to Hyeon Chung.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 41/25
Raonic – 50/35

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 10/3
Raonic – 26/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 3/11
Raonic – 1/3

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