Daniil Medvedev beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena, setting up an exhilarating final against Rafael Nadal.
The pair made a cagey start to the match, with neither dropping a point on serve until the fifth game. Even then it was only through bad luck, with Medvedev hitting the net cord only for the ball to spin over onto Tsitsipas’ side and leave him holding up his hands apologetically.
Tsitsipas looked to frustrate his opponent with a series of clever drop shots, a strategy which had some success. At 1-1, he won a lovely point when he drew Medvedev in at full stretch only to lob him with a backhand volley.
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Where the world No. 4 was able to dictate the rhythm when he drew Medvedev into extended rallies, his opponent’s service game was almost impeccable. The Russian only dropped his first point on serve at 6-6, which boded well for the tie-break, while Tsitsipas was forced to defend four break points at 4-4 after a sudden surge from his rival.
It was Tsitsipas who got the early mini-break, but Medvedev battled back with one of his own. He earned set point with an arrowed shot down the line before a short rally ended with his opponent sending a return narrowly wide, settling a tight first set in Medvedev’s favour.
The second set was a different story, with Medvedev dropping a slew of points in his opening service game to give Tsitsipas an immediate chance to break. He took it in style, pushing and pulling Medvedev across the court before coming to the net to smash a winner beyond his rival’s reach.
Medvedev broke back to make it 3-3 after a wobble from Tsitsipas, who defended three break points only to offer up a fourth at deuce with a narrow miss. Medvedev took it, leaving his opponent looking visibly deflated.
Just when it looked like Medvedev might wrest control of the match, a couple of big misses gave Tsitsipas another window of opportunity. He didn’t so much slip through it as smash through headfirst, a rare double fault from Medvedev giving him the chance to serve for the set which, despite the world No. 2’s best efforts, he did emphatically.
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Tsitsipas celebrated the decisive point wildly as Medvedev simmered. He took his frustrations out on umpire Jaume Campistol during the break, shouting: “Oh my god! Oh my god! You are so bad, man! My god, how can you be so bad in a semi-final of a Grand Slam? Look at me! I am talking to you!”
Having blown off some steam, Medvedev went into the third set with a steely focus. He regained his concentration on serve while making life increasingly difficult for Tsitsipas, waiting for the perfect moment at 5-4 before striking like a viper to break decisively.
With momentum behind him, Medvedev broke twice in a one-sided fourth set to secure his spot in the final. Furious outbursts aside, it was a beautifully composed performance which reaffirmed his status as the tournament favourite.
Speaking to Eurosport after the match, Medvedev admitted that it had been “very even” up until the third set. “I feel like, in a few moments, I maybe missed some balls where I could have got a break, he missed a few in the beginning of the third set, and then, starting from 5-4 in the third, I just found some momentum and something in the eyes to try to read his serve,” he said.
“I tried to put every ball in and made a few very important passing shots. His energy went down because of this, especially after the third set, and my energy was going on the up. I think it would have gone up even more if the match had continued.”
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