Australian Open LIVE – Djokovic ‘one step away’ from withdrawing

Novak Djokovic jokes about his age at the Australian Open

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The Australian Open semi-final picture is becoming clearer as the semi-finals wrap up in Melbourne on Wednesday. Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev will battle it out for the final spot in the evening game, vying for the chance to join Karen Khachanov and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final four.

Tsitsipas secured passage into the semi-finals on Tuesday, easing past the Czech Republic’s Jiri Lehecka in straight sets. Khachanov joined him by navigating past Sebastian Korda, taking a 7-6 6-3 3-0 lead before his American opponent retired through a wrist injury.

He ruffled feathers with his post-match decision to continue supporting Artsakh, an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan that the nation claims the latter has blockaded since December 12. Azerbaijan has called on the Armenian-Russian star to be ‘punished for his provocation’ after writing on the TV camera: “Keep believing until the very end. Artsakh, hold on!”

In the women’s draw, Magda Linette continued her dream run in Melbourne by beating Karolina Pliskova in straight sets. World number five Aryna Sabalenka also cruised past Donna Vekic to book a semi-final date with Linette. Elena Rybakina will face Victoria Azarenka in the other clash.

Azerbaijan want Khachanov punishment

Azerbaijan has called on Karen Khachanov to be ‘punished’ for ‘provocation’ of a breakaway republic in the country.

Khachanov has used his Australian Open campaign to show support for Artsakh, an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan.

Armenia claims Azerbaijan has blockaded the region also known as Nagorno Karabakh since December 12.

After reaching the quarter-finals, Khachanov wrote on a TV camera: “Keep believing until the very end. Artsakh, hold on!”

And Azerbaijan hasn’t taken kindly to the Armenian-Russian’s public stance.

He will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals after beating Sebastian Korda in the last eight.

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Djokovic ‘one step away’ from withdrawing

Novak Djokovic is ‘one step away’ from withdrawing from the Australian Open through injury, according to Dr Peter Larkins.

Pat Cash believes the tournament favourite is one wrong move away from ending his Melbourne campaign early…

He said: “Just one strange move and if you are wrong-footed, or lunging, and it hasn’t quite healed 100 per cent, there is a risk.

“There is no doubt there is a risk he could do something in the next few matches. It could be a strange move, and he could pull up, and it would be the end of his tournament unless it is in the final, and he would fight through.”

And Dr Larkin has also urged caution…

“I am absolutely giving him the benefit of the doubt, and don’t doubt it is real. There is probably some low-grade hamstring awareness there. It could be nerve-related,” he explained.

“He is probably so finely in tune with his body that even the slightest thing will be something he is aware of. But he is still one wrong step away from doing something more serious.”

Morning!

Good morning and welcome to another Express Sport live blog covering all the latest news and results from the Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic vs Andrey Rublev is on the agenda once Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul complete their all-American quarter-final.

Stay tuned for regular updates throughout your Wednesday.

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