Daniil Medvedev marches into Australian Open final
Russian defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas to set up title clash with Novak Djokovic
Russia's Daniil Medvedev lived up to Novak Djokovic's praise as the "man to beat" at the Australian Open as he charged into his first Melbourne Park final with an impressive 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday.
The rangy Medvedev wrapped the Greek fifth seed in a blanket of pressure under the lights of Rod Laver Arena, capturing his 20th successive victory to have a shot at ending Djokovic's dynasty in Sunday's decider.
Fourth seed Medvedev served like a machine until broken in the third set, which revived the Greek fans in the terraces as Tsitsipas roared to a 5-4 lead.
But the Russian silenced the crowd with the decisive break in the 11th game, then sealed a dominant win when he rushed forward on match point to whack a booming forehand into the corner.
"I'm happy to manage to keep my nerves because still I didn't make so many bad shots," Medvedev said on court of his anxious third set.
"So happy that I managed to keep my calmness. I just tried to hit aces and winners or put the ball in the court. That's the only way to do it.
"That's how I stayed in the match."
World number one Djokovic, who beat another Russian in qualifier Aslan Karatsev, will be a formidable opponent for Medvedev in his second Grand Slam final.
Serbian Djokovic is bidding for a record-extending ninth Australian Open title and has never lost a final in Melbourne.
For Tsitsipas, the defeat was not quite as bitter as his 2019 semi-final demolition by Rafa Nadal, when he exited Melbourne Park shell-shocked.
Yet he paid the price for another slow start, with Medvedev doing what Nadal could not in his five-set quarter-final loss to Tsitsipas this week – slamming the door on the Greek's revival.
"I think for sure he was tired after the match with Rafa," said Medvedev. "I saw that as soon as I was moving him around the court it was not easy for him ... That became my strategy straight away."
Published: February 19, 2021 05:06 PM