Novak Djokovic was left emotional after equalling the record of his biggest childhood hero at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The Serbian world No.1 registered a 7-6 4-6 6-2 6-3 victory over American 12th-seed Taylor Fritz to set up a semi-final clash against Jannik Sinner.
Djokovic is just two wins away from defending his title and landing a historic 25th Grand Slam singles trophy, which would see him move past Margaret Court for the most ever.
His victory over Fritz, meanwhile, saw Djokovic equal the Open Era record for the number of consecutive victories at the Australian Open – 33.
Djokovic is now level with nine-time Grand Slam champion Monica Seles, the former world No.1 star who represented Yugoslavia and the United States.
Seles was born in Novi Sad – located in Serbia after the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1992 – and Djokovic was thrilled to equal her Melbourne record.
‘It means a lot,’ Djokovic said in his post-match press conference after his four-set win over Fritz.
‘I didn’t know that I’m sharing this achievement, this record with her. It makes it of course even more special for me. I really love Monica.
‘I have had Monica in my head when I was growing up in Serbia pretty much every single day, because Jelena Gencic, my tennis mother, as I like to call her, she passed away in 2012, worked with Monica when she was young.
‘So I was hearing a lot about Monica, Monica this, Monica that, Monica eats this, Monica sleeps this much, Monica practices this way. So Monica was definitely one of my childhood idols and heroes, and I looked up to her very much.
‘So when I got a chance to meet with her first time it was really… I was very nervous. You know, so obviously she speaks our language because she was born in Serbia but spent most of her life, as she’s doing now, in United States.
‘Yeah, I know that she had an incredible career, and particularly she played well in Australia. Yeah, we all wonder how far she could have went if she didn’t, yeah, had to go through what she went through.
‘Yeah, about Monica, I have only nice words to say about her. I’m really glad that we are sharing this record.’