Serena Williams and Djokovic through to semi finals

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Serena Williams has sent a scary warning to the rest of the Australian Open field with one of her “best performances in years” to storm into the semi-finals.

Serena equalled Roger Federer’s record for most grand slam match victories on Tuesday night after powering past World No.2 Simona Halep to book her spot in a ninth semi-final at Melbourne Park.

In their first meeting since Halep’s demolition of Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final, the American great rediscovered her top-form to exact revenge on the Romanian and triumph 6-3 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.

The 39-year-old’s victory on Tuesday night sets up a blockbuster last-four meeting with pre-tournament favourite and 2019 Open champion Naomi Osaka.

Melbourne: Novak Djokovic smashed a racket, sending a piece of the frame flying. Later, he plopped himself down right there at the back of the blue court, looking forlorn as can be.

Novak Djokovic tames his temper to beat Alexander Zverev in Australian Open quarter-final

He dropped the opening set against Alexander Zverev, one of the young guys trying to shove aside Djokovic and the rest of the Big Three. Djokovic trailed 3-0 in the third. And 3-0 in the fourth, too, eventually even facing a set point.

Ah, but this is Djokovic we’re talking about, the ultimate competitor. And this is Djokovic at the Australian Open, where no man ever has been better. So, naturally, Djokovic pulled himself together and pulled out the victory, reaching his ninth semi-final at Melbourne Park by eliminating No 6 seed Zverev 6-7 (6), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (6) Tuesday night.

“I kind of regained my focus after I broke that racket. Things started to shift a little bit for me in a positive direction,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview in Rod Laver Arena about the way he mangled his equipment by hitting it against the court three times after netting a backhand return at 3-1 in the third set.

“It was a relief for me, but I wouldn’t recommend this kind of relief-channeling, if you want to call it,” Djokovic said later. “Of course I’m not proud of that, but you go through a lot of different emotions, you go through an inner battle. Everyone is different. I have my own demons that I have to fight with.”

Djokovic is closing in on a ninth championship in Australia, which would add to his own record for a man. And an 18th Grand Slam title overall, two fewer than rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (who plays in the quarter-finals Wednesday).

Both men wore tape on their midsections Tuesday to help with abdominal issues; Djokovic was hurt during his third-round win against Taylor Fritz and said he hasn’t been practicing as normal on his off-days.

Several leading men have been injured in Australia, and Djokovic thinks a big reason for that is the unusual circumstances of players’ needing to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in the country because of the strict COVID-19 pandemic regulations Down Under.

“What we are seeing is not normal. It’s not what we are used to. Top players are the fittest,” the No 1-ranked Djokovic said after his 23-ace performance against Zverev.

Zverev, the 2020 US Open runner-up and a semifinalist in Melbourne a year ago, once more had trouble against elite competition on the biggest stages. He fell to 0-8 against Top 10 opponents at Grand Slam tournaments; he is 25-29 facing such foes in tour-level matches otherwise.

firstpost and Yahoo sport

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