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Daniil Medvedev defeats Alexander Zverev to reach Australian ...

Daniil Medvedev defeats Alexander Zverev to reach Australian
Daniil Medvedev reached his sixth major final on Friday when he won the latest chapter of his long-running rivalry with Alexander Zverev at the Australian"...
Match Report

Down but not out, Medvedev claws past Zverev in five-set AO SF thriller

World No. 3 to play Sinner in Sunday's title match

January 26, 2024

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Daniil Medvedev is chasing his second major title and first in Melbourne. By ATP Staff

Back from the brink.

Daniil Medvedev rallied from two-sets-to-love down for the fourth time in his career on Friday when he moved past long-term rival Alexander Zverev 5-7, 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-3 to reach his third Australian Open final.

Meeting for the 19th time but first at a major, Medvedev was two points away from defeat in the fourth-set tie-break but stayed composed, eventually advancing to his sixth Slam title match after a four-hour and 18-minute epic inside a lively Rod Laver Arena.

"First set honestly I think we both didn't play that good," Medvedev said. "The second set I thought I played a bit better than the first set. He played very well, 6-3, two breaks, I didn't have chances on his serve. I was a little bit lost but during the third set I said if I was going to lose this match I was going to be proud of myself. I want to fight until the end and if I lose I lose and I managed to win and I am very proud."

MEDVEDEV MADNESS ????

The moment @DaniilMedwed defeated Zverev 5-7 3-6 7-6 7-6 6-3 to reach the #AusOpen final!@AustralianOpen

pic.twitter.com/Wbrhtd4hKu

— ATP Tour (@atptour) January 26, 2024

The 2021 US Open champion, who now leads Zverev 12-7 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series, will aim to clinch his second major trophy when he takes on Italian Jannik Sinner on Sunday after the fourth seed defeated record-10-time champ Novak Djokovic in four sets.

"Impressive," Medvedev said when asked about Sinner's run. "He was 1/5 against Andrey [Rublev] in the tie-break and he won the tie-break. Beat Novak, who was 10-0 in the semi-finals on these courts, so very impressive. I need to recover well and be 100 per cent on Sunday."

The World No. 3 struggled to find his best level across the opening two sets, with Zverev outlasting his deep-lying opponent in the gruelling baseline exchanges. However, the 20-time tour-level titlist refused to go away and dug his heels in. He forced Zverev to hit an extra ball in rallies, while he moved forward more frequently to pull the German around. His first-serve percentage increased from 50 per cent across the first two sets to 71 per cent in the decider and he hit 22 more winners in the final three sets compared to the first two.

"At one moment in the third set I felt tired physically," Medvedev said. "Looking at him I didn't see it. I thought I couldn't run anymore for 40-plus rallies like we did in the first sets, so I thought to go more aggressive and if it doesn't work out I tried what I thought would work. It started working.

"I made better shots that I didn't before and started to serve my better. In the tie-break I got a little bit lucky at 5/5 on return. The slice was intentional but the drop shot with back spin against the wind was not intentional. Sometimes you have to be lucky and today is my day."

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With his 27th match win in Melbourne Park, Medvedev is the 13th man in the Open Era to reach the Australian Open final on three or more occasions, having lost in 2021 and in 2022, when he led Rafael Nadal by two sets.

Earlier this fortnight, the 27-year-old rallied from two sets down to defeat Emil Ruusuvuori, with the second-round match finishing at 3:40 a.m. He also took out Top 10 Pole Hubert Hurkacz in five sets in the quarter-finals.

"Before my statistics in five sets were not good and physically and mentally it is tough in five sets," Medvedev said. "I am happy. One month ago I wanted to change a little bit to be more strong mentally... I am still far from perfect but I am trying."

Zverev was aiming to reach his second major final after advancing to the US Open title match in 2020, when he was two points away from victory against Dominic Thiem. The World No. 6 won five-set matches against Lukas Klein and Cameron Norrie in Melbourne this fortnight.

In an engaging opening set, both players hammered the ball in lengthy baseline rallies. Zverev hit his backhand cleanly, while Medvedev sat deep behind the baseline to soak up pressure. After squandering a 4-1 lead, Zverev regrouped and produced his best level when serving for the set at 6-5. With the score locked at deuce, Zverev won an epic 51-shot rally, moving forward to finish the point with a deft half volley. The German then clinched the set with a backhand volley to lead after 59 minutes.

Zverev continued to play front-foot tennis in the second set and gained the decisive break in the fifth game of the set to gain further control. The 26-year-old did not face a break point in the set and hit five more winners compared to Medvedev (13-7) to double his lead.

Medvedev has shown an abundance of grit throughout his career, though, and refused to go away in the third set. The World No. 3 played with more aggression, clubbing 19 winners and committing just five unforced errors as the set moved to a tie-break. From 4/4, Medvedev upped his depth and precision, finding the corners to pull Zverev around to win the set.

The fourth set once again went to a tie-break and at 4/4, Medvedev gave Zverev the advantage when he hit a double fault. However, the German could not capitalise, with Medvedev winning the final three points of the set, including a mishit return drop shot winner at 5/5, to level.

With little to separate them, Medvedev then broke Zverev twice in the fifth set, converting on his first match point. The No. 3 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings lifted his arms to the sky after his standout win.

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