Djokovic 6-1, 1-2 Rublev* (*denotes server)
Rublev, looking to get on the front foot at 15-all, is too feisty with a deep shot which the close call camera tracks as out by the finest of margins. He follows up with an ace, before sending Djokovic deep behind the baseline. Djokovic streaks for the ball but can’t quite reach it, screaming with frustration, before taking out some more on his box.
Rublev holds the game handily.
Djokovic* 6-1, 1-1 Rublev (*denotes server)
Rublev’s forehand catches Djokovic again, and he attempts to play it with a too-loose forehand return that springs into the tramlines. The wind is picking up again, and has a hand in picking up a lofty shot of Djokovic’s that isn’t controlled enough to land in play.
An ace restores things somewhat at 30-all, Djokovic’s sixth of the match, but Rublev hasn’t given up on the break, getting to deuce with a terrific smash which Djokovic attempts to lob back. Rublev waits and waits for the ball to land for the return, but when the ball does hit the court, it’s no longer in play.
No more of a slouch on his second serve as his first, Djokovic is first to advantage, and he eventually has his hold after Rublev hits too deep. Another sizable opportunity for Rublev that goes unanswered.
Second set: Djokovic 6-1, 0-1 Rublev* (*denotes server)
An efficient opener by Rublev with the new balls, who gets off to the races with a game held to love.
Djokovic talks to chair umpire James Keothavong
During the break, Djokovic made an effort to make sure that the chair umpire is aware of the heckler, and ready to take action.
We catch him saying:
Please listen to what [the heckler is] saying.
He’s always saying things to provoke me.
Djokovic* 6-1 Rublev (*denotes server)
Djokovic opens with a cursory ace, but Rublev doesn’t let him run away with it, keeping the pressure up to meet his opponent’s firepower and level things at 30-all. Now, it’s the Russian that has break point, but Djokovic can force deuce with a towering serve right on the T that Rublev is powerless to hit anywhere but out.
Djokovic on his serve can be indomitable, and when Rublev has the advantage, Djokovic deploys the weapon once again to force Rublev out. Rublev sprints to the net on the next point, pushing Djokovic back, but he can meet Rublev’s smash before beating him with a sharply-angled passing shot that benefits from a little help from the net cord.
A quick, precise serve, and Djokovic has the opening set. That could be a major knock to Rublev’s confidence: he played consistently well, but has only come away with a solitary game.
More from Simon Briggs on that heckler:
A voice shouted out “Come on Andrey, send him home” during Rublev’s last service game, which prompted the huge bank of Serbian fans on my left to erupt in a collective boo. That’s probably not the sort of support that Rublev is looking for. Djokovic is very sensitive about the deportation saga. After stuffing Alex De Minaur for the loss of five games in the previous match, Djokovic made it clear that he remembered De Minaur’s comment from last year: “We are tired of that [deportation] circus.”
Djokovic 5-1 Rublev* (*denotes server)
Rublev sends in a deceptively-casual forehand that Djokovic responds to with the same ease and nets, before returning the favour with a tight backhand volley that Rublev is too deep to strike cleanly.
Djokovic openly decries a poor return of his which streaks way past the baseline to hand Rublev 30-all, but in no time at all, he’s back on top. Rublev has to dig himself with his service game, and does so which a sparky forehand which rifles past a misdirected Djokovic, for deuce.
Djokovic is ruffled early by a heckler who has been testing him “at every point!” He looks for support from the umpire. Djokovic has been dogged by hecklers throughout this competition, but it’s early fury today from the record title-winner.
He rallies, and reaches his third break point opportunity. When Rublev thwarts him, Djokovic reaches break point once again. The pattern repeats itself, Rublev clinging on for dear life, as Djokovic reaches his fourth, his fifth.
Djokovic gets his double break with a battered forehand, hit again and again at Rublev forced into a corner, until he finally hits the ball way out of court.
Djokovic* 4-1 Rublev (*denotes server)
Firmly in control, Djokovic opens up with an ace, and skips to 30-love. But Rublev takes a chance with a sterling return that Djokovic is too quick to respond to, his effort landing in the net. He nets again, forced too deep by Rublev, which levels things.
But his text serve is hit with textbook accuracy and aces Rublev, chains clanking around his neck as he awaits the next. That’s an ace too, and a clean enough hold for Djokovic.
Djokovic 3-1 Rublev* (*denotes server)
During the break, the front row of Djokovic’s box craned over the edge to speak to him hurriedly. Whatever intel he gleaned, he takes the first point off Rublev, but the Russian comes back to get into the points with a well-controlled, streaking forehand, impressive in the face of the wind.
Rublev lets Djokovic in again at 40-30, and the Serbian gets to deuce with another barely-believable deep forehand which only just meets the baseline. A whippy serve that yields an unfocused return puts Rublev ahead, but only for a moment: Djokovic’s next return is so clean and commanding, Rublev falters.
Djokovic has his second break-point of the match, and this time, he makes good on it. A crucial opportunity at 40-15 squandered by Rublev.
Simon Briggs is at the Rod Laver Arena
Good evening from Melbourne. Conditions here are quite cool and there’s a gusting, inconsistent breeze that becomes quite strong at times. It’s not a bad evening for Rublev, whose flat hitting style doesn’t require too much spin or bounce (both more easily available in warmer weather). Or it wouldn’t be, if he was playing anyone but the King of Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic* 2-1 Rublev (*denotes server)
Another double fault for Djokovic, this time to bring Rublev in at 30-15, but he doesn’t let the wobble weaken his mettle, forcing Rublev into a shaky return with that all-too-dominant serve.
He wins the game handily, with minimal fuss.
Djokovic 1-1 Rublev* (*denotes server)
As if to reassure the number-four seed, Rublev matches him with an opening double fault. The point that follows is a mind-bendingly intense rally, with Djokovic directing the majority of the 25 shots, first with a confident backhand, then forehand. But Rublev holds his own, and wins the point with a springing forehand.
Rublev’s forehand can prove unmatchable, and it gets him ahead now, 40-15. But when he finds the net, there’s a little cause for concern: Rublev’s second serve is much less of a weapon, and Djokovic deals with it cleanly. Djokovic reaches deuce with an inch-perfect, dramatic-looking lob, which Rublev streaks to return but can only do so backwards, and clumsily. He can scarcely believe Djokovic’s shot landed on the right side of the baseline.
With Djokovic at advantage, Rublev claws back deuce with a steely backhand-forehand combination. He goes ahead after Djokovic mishits at the back of the court, and avoids the early break after his opponent plays too quickly, wildly sending the ball out to the stands.
Djokovic* 1-0 Rublev (*denotes server)
Djokovic opens his service with a double fault, which sends a murmur of surprise around the court. Only his 13th double fault of the tournament, and an inauspicious way to open up a quarter-final. But Djokovic gets off the mark moments later, after Rublev underhits his return into the net.
He reasserts parity with a scything ace, then forces Rublev to hit too deep off the back of a 197kph serve. But at 40-15, Rublev serves up a whip-smart forehand that bypasses Djokovic entirely.
But when drawn into the match’s first rally, Rublev under pressure finds the net.
Djokovic wins the toss
He elects to serve, and the pair begin their warm-ups. A gentle, but persistent, breeze, ruffles their shirts, Rublev’s curls, pinned back with an electric blue headband.
Hovering just off court
On his own, Rublev is pacing neatly back and forth, whereas Djokovic is nowhere to be seen; he’s all too happy to let his opponent wait for him.
Eventually, Djokovic emerges, and stalks Rublev, clad in electric blue, down the tunnel. The Russian is first to step out, and roundly applauded, but nothing can match the cheers and excitement for Djokovic, so popular once again at this competition.
Can Rublev stop a player that seems unstoppable?
One Nick Kyrgios, recovering from knee surgery, shared his thoughts whilst watching Djokovic take on his compatriot De Minaur. Well, quite.
Karen Khachanov sparks political row at the Australian Open
After wrapping up his quarter-final match against a retiring Sebastian Korda, Khachanov wrote ‘Atrsakh stay strong!’ on a TV camera, in solidarity with Armenian protests for independence in the embattled Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“I have Armenian roots,” said Khachanov on Tuesday, after defeating Sebastian Korda to move into the semi-finals. “From my father’s side, from my grandfather’s side, even from my mum’s side. To be honest, I don’t want to go deeper than that. I just wanted to show strength and support to my people.”
Read more in Simon Brigg’s report here.
Elsewhere in the men’s quarter-finals
Yesterday, Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Jiri Lehecka, 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-4, and Karen Khachanov swiped victory in three sets after Sebastian Korda retired in the third set.
This morning, Ben Shelton fell to compatriot Tommy Paul in a tightly-contested match which went to four sets; their all-American battle, and Korda’s inclusion, made this the first grand-slam quarter-finals featuring three US men for the first time in 18 years.
One step closer to his 10th title Down Under?
Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s live coverage of the fourth Australian Open men’s quarter-final, which sees Novak Djokovic face number-five seed Andrey Rublev at the Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic already holds the record for the most Australian Open wins, but has a statement-making tenth win in his sights, having cruised through the draw to banish soured memories of last year’s deportation spectacle. His blistering 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 victory over home favourite Alex De Minaur en route to today’s match sets him up as the most-likely contender, and although there were early doubts over his fitness – Djokovic has played through the competition with heavy strapping on his left thigh – he said in his on-court interview after beating De Minaur that he felt ‘great’.
“I didn’t feel anything today,” Djokovic said. “Today was great. I keep on going, I don’t want to celebrate too early. I was feeling really good in the first match, second one not so great, so I know things can change really quickly, I don’t take anything for granted.”
In a later Serbian press conference, he blasted those who had doubted that he was legitimately injured, adding that he was the only player subjected to these kind of rumours.
“Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.”
Rublev, too, has had a confident journey thus far in Melbourne, his greatest test coming in his fourth-round match against Holger Rune which went to five sets, but Rublev clinched the victory in time, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (tiebreak 11-9).
Seeded only one place below Djokovic at this year’s competition, the Russian player – competing under a neutral flag – has beaten Djokovic once during their previous three encounters.
Stick with us as we bring you all the build-up before the first serve at approximately 8.30am UK time.