Novak Djokovic will attempt to claim his 10th Australian Open crown after overcoming his own jitters and distractions, a divided Rod Laver Arena crowd and a frustrating exchange with the chair umpire to reach the Melbourne Park final.
Djokovic's father Srdjan was a conspicuous absentee from his player box as the Serb ace overcame an error-strewn first set to beat unseeded American Tommy Paul 7-5 6-1 6-2 to seal his place in the decider against No.3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Djokovic will attempt to join Rafael Nadal on a record 22 grand slam titles by earning his 10th Open crown in his return to Melbourne Park after missing last year's tournament when deported for not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
The No.1 ranking is also up for grabs when he faces Tsitsipas, who lost in five sets to Djokovic in the 2021 French Open final.
"Winning grand slams and being the No.1 in the world are probably the two biggest peaks that you can climb as a professional tennis player, so let's see what happens," he said.
The world No.5 continued with the heavy left hamstring strapping that he has carried through his campaign but attention was instead on the vacant seat among the Djokovic camp.
Srdjan Djokovic decided to watch the semi-final from off site to avoid becoming a disruption following the emergence of a video of him posing at Melbourne Park with fans holding Russian flags.
But the issue of Russia fans reared its head anyway, with a man who had worn a 'Z' T-shirt at his quarter-final against Andrey Rublev again pictured in the front row, albeit in a different shirt.
The letter Z icon, which shows support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, is among the banned symbols at Melbourne Park, along with Russian and Belarusian flags.
In the first set, Djokovic overcame some early stutters and break points to race away to a 3-0 lead, then a 5-1 advantage.
After spurning a set point, Djokovic squabbled with chair umpire Damien Dumusois for starting the serve clock as he was getting a towel from one of the ball kids.
With the crowd behind him, Paul broke Djokovic's serve on the next point to win the first of four consecutive games that got the set back on serve at 5-5.
But that seemingly spurred Djokovic into action as he rushed through the final two games to claim the set.
"I was really fortunate to hold my nerves towards the end of the first set," Djokovic said.
"That was the key. After that, I started swinging through the ball more.
"I'm just really pleased to be into another final."
He cupped his ear with his finger as he marched to his seat, then pointed to his fans and fist-pumped.
The nine-time champion then dropped just three games across the second and third sets to turn a tricky encounter into a straight-sets victory.