MELBOURNE, Australia Daniil Medvedev is just not losing at the moment. Not in the top 10 of the opponents. Not to anyone, really. Certainly not to a drained 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 continues his first major league, crushing fifth-seeded Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 on Friday at Melbourne Park to execute his 20-match winning streak . This includes around ten victories against members of the Top 10.
He’s a gamer, Tsitsipas said, who has unlocked just about everything in the game.
Tsitsipas, a 22-year-old Greek, came out flat looking exhausted after an epic four-hour win over Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, coming back from a two-set deficit.
Still, Medvedev was formidable, breaking just once and racking up 17 aces among his 46 winners.
The latter total featured a backhand pass he knocked down on the line after sprinting into a slide for a break in the penultimate match, a spectacular effort which Medvedev celebrated by raising both arms and waving his hands in a gesture that said to the whole world, Look at me!
The moment I won the match, Medvedev called him. One of my best shots of 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 while ‘he is trying to gain on the men’s record of 20 shared by Nadal and Roger Federer.
Djokovic, who won his semi-final against 114th qualifier Aslan Karatsev on Thursday, is a 17-0 combined in the semi-final and final at Melbourne Park.
He’s the one who has all the pressure [closer] to Roger or Rafa in the Grand Slam, Medvedev said. So I just hope I go out here, show off my best tennis. As you can see I can win [against] some big names if I play well. This is the main part. He has, of course, more experience, but more to lose than I do.
Medvedev was Nadal’s finalist at the 2019 US Open.
It was my first Grand Slam final against one of the greats, said Medvedev, a 25-year-old Russian. Sunday I will come [up] against one of the other bigger ones.
It took only 75 minutes for Medvedev to take a two-set lead against Tsitsipas. He went up 3-1 in the third before Tsitsipas made things a little more interesting, if only briefly, winning three games in a row, including his only break of the game.
But Medvedev, his exquisite basic defense, proved too difficult.
I’m happy that I managed to change my goal and change the momentum, Medvedev said.
Earlier, after a set and a break in the second, Tsitsipas sat down during a change and threw an open water bottle, causing a splash on the pitch that caused the ball kids to search for towels to wipe away the mess. The bubbly scene caught Medvedev’s attention.
At the start of the third set, Medvedev told chair umpire James Keothavong that Tsitsipas’ father, who also coaches him, talks way too much in the stands.
Tsitsipas and Medvedev already have a somewhat uncomfortable history, dating from their first touring encounter at the 2018 Miami Open. Medvedev won that one, he started their feud with a 5-0 advantage, although Tsitsipas had won the most recent match before Fridays and ended in a verbal volley.
They have tried to soften things up through the media in recent days, including Tsitsipas coming back from disparaging Medvedev’s style of play.
I could have said in the past that he plays boring, but I don’t really think he plays boring, Tsitsipas said this week. He just plays extremely smart and outshines you.
A pretty good summary of what happened in the semi-finals.
Melbourne has a sizable Greek population, and Tsitsipas received a much warmer welcome, filled with fluttering blue and white flags, when he arrived at court; Medvedev actually heard taunts.
Stadium attendance was capped at 50% of around 7,500 capacity when fans were allowed to return to the tournament after being banned for five days during a local lockdown due to an increase in COVID cases -19.
Even though the crowd tried to boost Tsitsipas, he never really got started until this late push that ended up getting nowhere.
I have proven that I have the level to beat these players. It’s not that I haven’t, said Tsitsipas, who fell to 0-3 in the Grand Slam semi-finals, along with the other losses to Nadal and Djokovic. Hopefully something better next time. I really hope it comes.