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Well rested Djokovic poised to pounce

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23rd January, 2019
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After two years away, Novak Djokovic is back in the Australian Open semi-finals; something which should make his title rivals very concerned.

Djokovic has six titles at Melbourne Park, equal to Roger Federer’s haul and one short of Serena Williams’ Open-era record of seven titles.

But most significant is one statistic.

Every time he’s reached the last four, he’s lifted the trophy.

And courtesy of Kei Nishikori’s withdrawal in their quarter final, he’s well rested for another championship assault.

“It feels great,” Djokovic said.

“This has been my most successful grand slam throughout my career, the first one that I won back in 2008.

“Over the past 10 years, I’ve had plenty of success here.

“Obviously that has helped to kickstart the season in a great fashion, obviously served as a great confidence boost for what was coming up.

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“That’s one of the reasons why I think I always try to push myself really to focus here and to play as best as I can so I can really start off the season well.

“Australia has been really kind to me throughout my career, I can say.”

Djokovic’s next challenge is Lucas Pouille, the 28th seed who will be appearing his first major semi-final.

After that lurks either world No.2 Rafael Nadal or another insurgent force, Greek 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Given their pedigree, most are preparing for a Djokovic-Nadal clash on Sunday; a resumption of the most played match in the Open-era.

The pair have met 52 times, with the Serbian edging their duels 27-25.

It would also be their first clash in Australia since their 2012 final epic, a five-set, almost six-hour clash won by Djokovic.

Not that Djokovic was in the mood to contemplate that prospect just yet.

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“Right now it’s my press conference, so it will be nice to talk about me more than Nadal. If you want to talk about our possible encounter, we talk about that if we both win semis,” he said.

“(Pouille) has won against some top players. Of course Milos (Raonic), (Borna) Coric in the last round.

“With the quality of the tennis that he possesses, he deserves to be definitely at the top 15, maybe top 10 of the world. He’s got that quality and potential, no question about it.

“We both, I’m sure, want to get to the finals. Hopefully we can both be fresh and fit and put on the great show.”