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Novak Djokovic heavy favorite to claim 9th Australian Open title

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 16, 2021 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during his quarter final match against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 16, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his quarter final match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Novak Djokovic has 17 Grand Slam titles under his belt as he prepares for Thursday’s semifinal at the Australian Open.

That is 17 more than the other three semifinalists combined.

The top-seeded Djokovic’s path to a ninth title in Melbourne seemingly became easier when No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal was stunned by No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals. Djokovic’s odds to win the 2021 Australian Open have shortened to -125 by DraftKings.

The 33-year-old is the -1250 favorite to ease by Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev (+800), who upset 18th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov to set up Friday’s first semifinal. Karatsev is playing in his first Grand Slam semifinal and is the +3300 longshot to win the men’s title.

Djokovic is being offered at -139 to handle Karatsev in straight sets. The next lowest Correct Score odds? Djokovic in four sets at +270.

The bigger question would appear to be who he will face in Sunday’s final.

Read More: Novak Djokovic rides milestone win into quarterfinals

Tsitsipas (+185) will again play the role of underdog Friday when he takes on fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev (-230).

Medvedev reached the U.S. Open final in 2019 but will be playing in his first Australian Open semifinal. This will be Tsitsipas’ third career Grand Slam semifinal appearance and second in Melbourne.

Medvedev is being offered at +225 to win his first Grand Slam title, followed by Tsitsipas (+475).

Getting past Djokovic will be a tall order. The Serbian is 80-8 all-time at the Australian Open as he attempts to close the major title gap on Nadal and Roger Federer, who each have 20.

He did have to rally from a set down to beat No. 6 Alexander Zverev and his path to the semifinals has not come without some challenges. After a straight-sets win to open the tournament, he dropped a set to Frances Tiafoe in the second round, needed five sets to get by Taylor Fritz in the third round and dropped another set to Milos Raonic in the fourth round.

All arrived in Melbourne with more established resumes than the 27-year-old Karatsev, who is the first player in the Open Era to reach a semifinal in his maiden Grand Slam appearance. He’s also just the fifth qualifier to reach a Grand Slam semifinal.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Karatsev, who had failed to qualify in nine previous Grand Slam tournaments. “… It’s incredible.”

The sentiment was similar for Tsitsipas after the 22-year-old Greek rallied from two sets down to end Nadal’s quest for a record 21st Grand Slam title.

“I’m speechless, I have no words to describe what just happened out on the court,” Tsitsipas said in a post-match interview on the court. “My tennis speaks out for itself. It’s an unbelievable feeling to be able to fight at such a level. Give it my all on the court. I don’t know what happened after the third set. I just, fly like a little bird. Everything was working for me. The emotions in the end are indescribable.”

–Field Level Media