Daniil Medvedev just isn’t losing right now. Not the top 10 opponents. Not really anyone. Certainly not against an exhausted Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinals of the Australian Open.
Now let’s see what happens against Novak Djokovic at Rod Laver Arena.
Medvedev reached his second Grand Slam final as he seeks his first major championship, crushing fifth-seeded Tsitsipas, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5, on Friday at Melbourne Park to bring his winning streak to 20 games. That includes a dozen wins against members of the Top 10.
“He’s a gamer,” Tsitsipas said, “who has unlocked pretty much everything in the game.”
Tsitsipas, a 22-year-old Greek, came out flat, looking exhausted after an epic four-hour victory over Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, coming back from a two-set deficit.
Still, Medvedev was great, broke just once and racked up 17 aces among his 46 winners.
That final total featured a backhand pass he threw down the line after running onto a slide for a break in the penultimate game, a spectacular effort Medvedev celebrated by raising both arms and waving his hands in a gesture that told the world: “Check me out!”
“The moment I won the match,” Medvedev called him. “One of my best shots in my career.”
In Sunday’s final (7:30 p.m. local time, 3:30 a.m. EST), No. 4 seed Medvedev will face No. 1 Djokovic, who already owns eight Australian Open titles among his 17 Grand Slam trophies. as he tries to win on the men’s record of 20 shared by Nadal and Roger Federer.
Djokovic, who won his semi-final against 114th-ranked Aslan Karatsev on Thursday, is 17-0 combined in the semi-finals and finals at Melbourne Park.
“He’s the one who has all the pressure, getting (closer) to Roger or Rafa at the Grand Slams,” Medvedev said. “So I just hope I can get out here, show my best tennis. As we see, I can win (against) some big names if I play well. That is the main part. He certainly has more experience, but more to lose than I do. “
Medvedev was Nadal’s runner-up at the 2019 US Open.
“It was my first Grand Slam final against one of the greatest,” said Medvedev, a 25-year-old Russian. “On Sunday, I’m going to face one of the other greats.”
Medvedev took just 75 minutes to take a two-set lead against Tsitsipas. He was up 3-1 in the third before Tsitsipas made things a bit more interesting, albeit only briefly, by winning three games in a row, including his only break of the match.
But Medvedev, with his exquisite baseline defense, proved too tough.
“I am happy that I managed to change my approach and change the momentum,” Medvedev said.
Earlier, with a set and a break in the second, Tsitsipas sat on a changeover and threw an open water bottle, causing a splash on the court that forced the kids to search for towels to clean up the mess. The smug scene caught Medvedev’s attention.
At the beginning of the third set, Medvedev told chair umpire James Keothavong that Tsitsipas’ father, who also coaches him, “is talking too much” from the stands.
Tsitsipas and Medvedev already have a slightly awkward history, dating back to their first meeting on the tour at the 2018 Miami Open. Medvedev won that one, starting their rivalry with a 5-0 lead, though Tsitsipas claimed the most recent meeting before the Friday, and ended with some verbal volleys.
They have tried to smooth things over through the media in recent days, including Tsitsipas backtracking on denigrating Medvedev’s style of play.
“I could have said in the past that he plays boring, but I really don’t think he plays boring,” Tsitsipas said this week. “He just plays extremely smart and beats you.”
A pretty good summary of what happened in the semi-final.
Melbourne has a sizeable Greek population, and Tsitsipas received a much warmer salute, laden with blue and white flags when he arrived at court; Medvedev heard some teasing.
Attendance at the stadium was capped at 50% capacity, around 7,500, when fans were allowed to return to the tournament after being banned for five days during a local shutdown due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
As much as the crowd tried to push Tsitsipas forward, he never really got going until that last push that ultimately led nowhere.
“I have shown that I have the level to beat these players. It’s not that I didn’t, ”said Tsitsipas, who fell to 0-3 in the Grand Slam semifinals, with the other losses coming to Nadal and Djokovic. “Let’s hope for better next time. I really hope it comes. “
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.