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Australian Open: Tsitsipas beats Khachanov to reach first final

Tsitsipas will face Novak Djokovic or unseeded American Tommy Paul

Tsitsipas-aus-open-afp Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates after defeating Russia's Karen Khachanov during their men's singles semifinal match at the Australian Open | AFP

Stefanos Tsitsipas had a harder time strictly following all of the rules than he did outplaying his opponent in the early going, then recovered after blowing two match points late in the third set, and eventually reached the final at the Australian Open for the first time by beating Karen Khachanov 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 on Friday.

The No. 3-seeded Tsitsipas had been 0-3 in semifinals at Melbourne Park, but he finally went a step further to get to the second Grand Slam championship match of his career.

It looked easy for the better part of three sets against Khachanov, but Tsitsipas got broken when serving for the match at 5-4 in the third, then failed to convert either chance to end it when he went up 6-4 in the ensuing tiebreaker. Khachanov collected four consecutive points there, erasing the match points with a pair of booming forehands. Tsitsipas, though, regained his footing quickly, grabbing a 3-0 lead in the fourth.

Now, Tsitsipas will face Novak Djokovic or unseeded American Tommy Paul in the men's singles final on Sunday.

If he claims his first major trophy, Tsitsipas would also achieve another milestone: He would rise to No. 1 in the ATP rankings for the first time.

Djokovic, who would return to No. 1 if he wins the championship, has won the Australian Open nine times and owns 21 Grand Slam titles in all - only Rafael Nadal, with 22, has more among men - and carried a 26-match winning streak at Melbourne Park into Friday's second semifinal. Until this week, Paul never had been past the fourth round in 13 previous appearances at major tournaments.

Tsitsipas's other run to a major final came at the 2021 French Open, when he grabbed the first two sets before blowing that big lead and losing to Djokovic in five.

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