Palmerbet Sports Team’s daily preview serves up Australian Open tips for surprise-packet Lucas Pouille’s mammoth semi-final assignment against top seed Novak Djokovic.
19:30 (AEDT), Fri Jan 25th @ Melbourne Park
History: First meeting
Final Thoughts: Lucas Pouille’s run to the Australian Open semi-finals has surprised most. But he will need to produce one of the biggest upsets in recent grand slam history to reach a maiden final.
Pouille, seeded 28th, survived a marathon five-setter against Aussie wildcard Alexei Popyrin in the third round. He has gone from strength to strength since then, however, upsetting 11th seed Borna Coric and 16th seed Milos Raonic in four sets.
But now he confronts the indomitable Novak Djokovic. The world No.1’s his quarter-final opponent, Kei Nishikori, was forced to retire with Djokovic up 6-1 4-1. It may have been a welcome reprieve for Djokovic after he was pushed hard in a lengthy four-setter by Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round.
Djokovic is hunting his seventh Australian Open title and first since 2016. He was the last player to win three majors in a row – holding all four titles during his halcyon 2015-16 streak – and the reigning Wimbledon and US Open champ is just two victories away from achieving the feat again.
Pouille’s best performances at a grand slam previously were Wimbledon and US Open quarter-final showings in 2016. He broke into the top-10 last March, but suffered a frustrating loss of form.
Teaming up with coach Amelie Mauresmo in December has paid immediate dividends, however.
Breaking the big-serving Raonic three times gives Pouille confidence heading into the biggest game of his career. But Djokovic’s all-round brilliance and ruthlessness will present far more challenges for the 24-year-old Frenchman.
Pouille has never played Djokovic and their maiden meeting shapes as a steep learning curve.