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Djokovic stays number one ahead of Australian Open final shootout

Novak Djokovic meets Jannik Sinner for a place in the Australian Open final on Friday, boosted by the knowledge he cannot be toppled as world…

Novak Djokovic meets Jannik Sinner for a place in the Australian Open final on Friday, boosted by the knowledge he cannot be toppled as world number one after the shock exit of Carlos Alcaraz.

The Serbian superstar will resume his march towards an 11th title and a record 25th Grand Slam crown in the afternoon session on Rod Laver Arena, again bumped from his favoured evening slot.

The 36-year-old complained about feeling “trapped” by the oppressive heat on court when he battled past Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals as the temperatures topped 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit).

It is forecast to be about 10 degrees cooler on Friday, and Djokovic is determined to keep intact his 33-match unbeaten streak at Melbourne Park stretching back to 2018.

He did not compete at the event in 2022 due to his coronavirus vaccination status.

“I’m aware of the streak that I’m on and the amount of matches that I have won in my career on the Rod Laver Arena. I don’t want to let that go,” he said.

“The longer the streak goes, the more that kind of confidence, also expectations built, but also the willingness to really walk the extra mile, so to say.”

Whatever happens, he will remain world number one.

Djokovic, Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev all began the season’s first major with a chance to depart Melbourne as the top-ranked player.

But after Alcaraz’s defeat to Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals, the Serb cannot be supplanted.

If Medvedev wins the title, he will claim Alcaraz’s world number two spot.

Italian fourth seed Sinner is in the form of his life and will take comfort from beating Djokovic at the ATP Finals and Davis Cup late last season.

“This is what I practise for, to play against the best players in the world,” said the 22-year-old, who is targeting a maiden Grand Slam title.

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