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Ricky’s pick for the Australian Open semifinals: Djokovic vs. Sinner

What will the Australian Open semifinals do for an encore?

Jannik Sinner took the tennis world by storm last season, and the fall swing specifically was headlined by the emergence of Sinner’s rivalry with Novak Djokovic. They faced each other three times in the final two weeks of the 2023 campaign, as a pair of Nitto ATP Finals showdowns were split before Sinner won a three-set thriller in the Davis Cup semifinals.

Now Djokovic and Sinner will meet again in the semis of the new season’s first Grand Slam. Whoever wins will be favored to capture the title on Sunday–what would be Djokovic’s 11th at Melbourne Park and Sinner’s first major of any kind.

It seems like only a matter of time before Sinner wins that first one. He has been the hottest player on tour dating back to last fall and isn’t slowing down in 2024. The world No. 4 has not dropped a single set this fortnight and only Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals even pushed him to a tiebreaker.

Djokovic has not been entirely dominant at this tournament, but it hardly matters. Once he gets to the business end of Aussie Opens he is literally unbeatable. The 36-year-old improved to 11-0 in quarterfinals at this event by beating Taylor Fritz in four sets on Tuesday. Djokovic is 10-0 in semifinals and also 10-0 in finals.

Those numbers are daunting, to be sure, but if anyone has a chance against him it’s Sinner. The underdog won’t lack confidence following his pair of upsets last fall–even though he is 0-2 lifetime against Djokovic at majors, with both losses coming at Wimbledon (in five sets in 2022 and in straight sets in 2023).

Another upset wouldn’t be shocking, but in a best-of-five situation and specifically at Melbourne Park you have to give the edge to Djokovic.

Pick: Djokovic in 5

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.