Djokovic eyeing more rare air at Open

Novak Djokovic will attempt to seal his spot in a mind-blowing 44th grand slam semi-final when he headlines the quarter-final action at Melbourne Park.

The Serb is in a stratosphere of his own ahead of his Australian Open quarter-final clash with Andrey Rublev: unbeaten in 38 matches in Australia and chasing a 10th semi-final appearance, then title, at his favoured slam.

To stand in Djokovic's way, Rublev will have to break new ground of his own: making it to a slam semi-final for the first time.

The Russian has appeared in six slam quarter-finals, including in Melbourne in 2021, but is yet to take the next step.

With Djokovic seemingly shaking off concerns over his troublesome left hamstring, that's easier said than done.

"I know that Novak is a very tough player to beat, especially on the slams," Rublev told reporters.

"He has the best experience to win these kind of matches. He's one of the best in history.

"The only chance I have is if I play my best tennis, just fight for every ball, and that's it. That's the only chance."

At the other end of the experience spectrum to Djokovic is American student Ben Shelton.

Shelton, whose coach and father is former professional player Bryan Shelton, is playing his first overseas slam while juggling his first year at college.

"It maybe has helped me a little bit, kind of not having that expectation or the feeling that I have to perform, but being able to just go out there, be myself and play free," he said.

"I think that's been a big contribution to my success."

Fellow American Tommy Paul plans to do some studying of his own before taking on Shelton.

"This will probably be the first time that I'll have to watch some film on my opponent in this whole tournament so far," he said.

Meanwhile women's fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka is daring to dream as she eyes her own breakthrough.

"I want believe that the way I'm working right now, the way I'm on the court right now, this is the new beginning, and this is the next step," she said.

The Belarusian's imposing form isn't fazing Croatian opponent Donna Vekic.

"I've read, of course, on Twitter that she's playing maybe the best tennis on the women's side this Australian Open," Vekic said.

"I have a great head-to-head with her. All of our matches have been really tough, so I'm sure next one will be as well."

No.30 seed Karolina Pliskova hasn't dropped a set in Melbourne and the 2019 semi-finalist will hope to avoid becoming the latest victim of tournament giant-killer Magda Linette.