Daniil Medvedev was staring down defeat at the Australian Open. Two sets behind. Struggling for form. The man across the net, Felix Auger-Aliassime, putting in the performance of his life. All hope seemed lost.
But then a question popped out of the darkness and into his mind: ‘What would Novak do?’
Whatever it was, it worked. Medvedev saved a match point as he mounted a heroic comeback on Rod Laver Arena to halt Auger-Aliassime in five sets and reach the last four in Melbourne.
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Afterwards, he credited Novak Djokovic – the world No. 1 who has forged his reputation on a never-say-die attitude – for giving him the belief he needed to turn it around.
“I was not playing my best and Felix was playing unbelievable, serving unbelievable,” Medvedev admitted to on-court reporter Jim Courier after the match.
“He was all over me to be honest, I didn’t really know what to do. I don’t know if people are going to like it, but I asked myself ‘what would Novak do?’”
His inflammatory statement inevitably sparked boos – and a few cheers – from the crowd in light of the Djokovic saga that plagued the build-up to the Australian Open. Djokovic was deported on the eve of the tournament after a see-saw case surrounding his medical exemption for being unvaccinated.
“What came to my mind was that he was one of the greatest champions, or Rafa or Roger to be honest, they’ve won so many matches… and I just thought OK, I’m going to make him [Auger-Aliassime] work,” continued Medvedev.
“If he wants to win it, he needs to fight to the last point. Even if it’s 5-0 40-0 to him, I’m going to try to make him tired for the next match.”
It was the only second time in his career that Medvedev had come back from two sets down and kept him in course for a second straight Grand Slam title after his US Open triumph in September.
He reiterated to Eurosport: “I think today, the first two-three sets, he was playing unreal. Almost no easy mistakes, no double faults.
“I didn’t know what to do. So I said OK, I’m going to make his life as tough as possible. I’m going to fight for every point. I’m going to try serve some aces. I’m going to try to win one set, then maybe two, maybe three, and it worked.”
Medvedev will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last four after the Greek star put on a show in dismantling Jannik Sinner in straight sets.
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