Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open dominance explained by Tim Henman as Sunday final awaits

Australian Open: Novak Djokovic discusses injury issues

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Novak Djokovic has been praised by Tim Henman ahead of Sunday’s Australian Open final. The Serb was too strong for Aslan Karatsev on Thursday morning, winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. And he’ll now go up against Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas with the Grand Slam at stake.

Djokovic has been in remarkable form Down Under, with the 33-year-old battling through to yet another final.

He’s become something of a specialist at the Australian Open over the years, having previously already scooped the prize eight times in the past.

And Henman, talking to Eurosport, believes Djokovic’s preparations are key to his dominance of the competition.

“I think you look at the conditions, it’s a hard court, it’s a good surface for him to move on,” he said.

“But, for me, you’ve also got to pinpoint his off season. Whatever he does in preparation.

“He really gives himself such a good platform, a foundation to build early in the season.

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“When you look at his record, he’s never lost in the final or the semi-final of the Australian Open, I wouldn’t be surprised if he adds another title this year.”

Djokovic was delighted after his victory over Karatsev, saying afterwards: “I expected Aslan to play on a high level, I’ve seen him play against really high-ranked opponents in this tournament.

“He played great. He just strikes the ball so well and he is very strong physically, he’s a big guy, he has a very good serve and he picks up most of the returns and plays it flat straight under your feet so you have got to be ready and I think I executed my game plan and tactics I set up with my coach really well.

“It was an even match until 3-3, 4-3 in the first.

“He then played a sloppy-ish game, with new balls, 4-3, I made him play, I mixed up the pace of the ball.

“I wanted him to always have a different rotation on the ball coming from my side and never really know what is coming. I didn’t want to play predictable and it worked very well.

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“Aslan was hitting very flat and deep in the court so I just wanted to give myself slightly more space between my racquet and the ball.

“I just wanted to be patient and constructive in the play, not really going for anything spectacular if I’m not in the right position on the court and if I don’t have the right ball.

“I thought I came out really strong, solid, no pain, just moved very well and everything worked terrific. I’m really pleased with the performance.

“I think today was my best performance of the tournament so far, the best I have felt on the court, the best I was hitting the ball.

“It came at exactly the right time, just before the most important match, and it’s going to be a tough one with Tsitsipas and Medvedev both in great form.

“Both playing terrific tennis. I’m going to enjoy watching their match tomorrow with my team and coach and analyse.

“I’ll then get on the practice court the next day before the finals and depending on who I play I’ll work on specific things.

“Really the priority now is re-charging the batteries, feeling re-cuperated for the finals, I’ve had enough hits, enough practices, enough match play and I’m ready.”

Djokovic also defended Serena Williams after she lost to Naomi Osaka.

“Regardless of the amount of years that you’ve played on the tour, and the experience that you have, you still feel [the pressure] on your shoulders,” he said.

“I can empathise with Serena and what she’s going through.

“She’s such an amazing champion that inspires both male and female athletes around the world, and what she has been doing, still is doing, in her age is extraordinary.

“I’m sure she’s disappointed, I heard she was also emotional in the press conference.

“Regardless of all the success that she had, I know that when you lose a big match, you’re frustrated, you’re p***** off.

“But I think when you see a larger picture for her, who she is, what she stands for, on and off the court, I mean, she is one of the greatest ever, no doubt, athletes, not just tennis players.

“I’m proud. I’m proud and honoured to be playing at the same time she does, and to see her greatness, experience her greatness, is a thrill.”

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