Serbia's Novak Djokovic is into the men's singles semi-finals at the Australian Open for the 10th time ©Getty Images

Nine-time winner Novak Djokovic earned a record-equalling 26th consecutive Australian Open victory, making short work of fifth seed Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals.

After missing last year's tournament having been deported for his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Serbian looks the favourite for a triumphant return to Melbourne Park.

Djokovic moved one step closer to matching Spain's Rafael Nadal's record 22 men's single Grand Slams with a straight sets victory in two hours and three minutes against Rublev, a Russian player competing as a neutral.

He looked untroubled by a hamstring injury which he has been nursing throughout the tournament, storming to the first set 6-1 at the Rod Laver Arena.

He followed it with 6-2 and 6-4 wins in the second and third to reach a 10th semi-final at the Australian Open.

Victory over the United States' Tommy Paul in Friday's (January 27) semi-final would see him surpass American Andre Agassi's record of 26 consecutive men's singles wins at the tournament.

Paul reached his first Grand Slam semi-finals by ending the run of 20-year-old compatriot Ben Shelton, who was making his Australian Open debut.

He won a first-set tiebreak 8-6, and followed it with a 6-3 win in the second.

Shelton hit back by taking the third 7-5, but a 6-4 fourth-set victory secured Paul's place in the last four.

Poland's Magda Linette is into her first Grand Slam semi-final at the age of 30 ©Getty Images
Poland's Magda Linette is into her first Grand Slam semi-final at the age of 30 ©Getty Images

The women's singles could feature a final between two Belarusian players competing as neutrals, after fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka followed Victoria Azarenka's success yesterday by beating Croatia's Donna Vekić 6-3, 6-2.

Sabalenka is into her fourth Grand Slam semi-final and first at the Australian Open.

She is set to face Magda Linette of Poland tomorrow, after the world number 45 reached the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time at the age of 30.

Linette knocked out a seeded player for the fourth consecutive round, beating Czech Republic's Karolína Plíšková 6-3, 7-5.

Two-time winner Azarenka is due to play Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in tomorrow's first semi-final, followed by Sabalenka against Linette.

The men's singles semi-finals, featuring Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas against Russian neutral Karen Khachanov and Djokovic against Paul, are scheduled for Friday.