Djokovic sees off Khachanov to meet Medvedev in Astana semis

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Novak Djokovic didn’t play as well in his Astana Open quarterfinal as he did in the first two rounds.

“Still, it was enough,” Djokovic said after beating Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-3.

“I managed to produce some good tennis when it was the most needed.”

Djokovic conceded a 3-0 lead but broke Khachanov for the first set with a backhand volley. He broke Khachanov for 3-1 in the second and finished their quarterfinal with an ace.

Daniil Medvedev awaits in the semifinals. Medvedev has a 4-6 win-loss record against Djokovic, and they haven’t met since the Paris final last November, when Djokovic won in three sets.

“I thought about it before the (quarterfinal) and we have only played one tournament together this year, which was Roland Garros,” Medvedev said. “This is the second one and we meet again and I am really happy.”

Medvedev was too consistent and good for Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-1. Bautista Agut went in with 4-1 record against Medvedev but was blown away.

“It is not easy to play against Roberto. I tried to mix it up and surprise him a little bit and it worked very well.”

The other semifinal pits third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas against fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev. Tsitsipas leads their matchups 5-4.

Tsitsipas hasn’t dropped serve this week after saving five set points in the tiebreaker against Hubert Hurkacz.

“Most of those situations, I was not the fortunate one serving,” Tsitsipas said of the set points. “I was still able to break through and get back fighting, and it was very, very emotional to get that first tiebreak after having thrown my body on the court.”

Tsitsipas prevailed 7-6 (8), 6-3 to reach his ninth semifinal this year.

Rublev took care of Adrian Mannarino of France 6-1, 6-2.

Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.