By G9ija

Novak Djokovic put aside the controversy surrounding his father to surge into a 10th Australian Open final Friday and close in on a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam crown.

Only Stefanos Tsitsipas stands in his way after the Serb romped past unseeded American Tommy Paul 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

Another title on Sunday will move Djokovic alongside Rafael Nadal with 22 Slam wins and see the 35-year-old return to world number one for the first time since last June.

Greek third seed Tsitsipas, who ground past Russian 18th seed Karen Khachanov in four sets in the other semi-final, can also become the top-ranked player should he lift the trophy.

Djokovic played without father Srdjan courtside after he was filmed posing with a man holding a Russian flag featuring Vladimir Putin’s face following his son’s quarter-final win.

It sparked a backlash from Ukraine and led to calls for Djokovic’s father to be banned from the tournament.

Djokovic said after his match that the incident had been “misinterpreted”, that his family was against war and he hoped to have his father back in his box for Sunday’s final.

“It has got to me, of course,” he said of the controversy swirling around his father.

“You have to find a way just to kind of accept, let it go, just not allow it to consume your day or turn your state of mind into something that you don’t want, especially before semi-finals or finals of a Grand Slam.”

His ruthless win extended Djokovic’s unbeaten streak at the Australian Open to 27 matches to claim sole ownership of the Open-era record at Melbourne Park ahead of Andre Agassi.