Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev extends his winning streak to 20 consecutive matches dating back to the Paris Masters in November and appears in no mood to stop now as he prepares to face world No 1 and defending eight-time champion Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final
Friday 19 February 2021 14:07, UK
Daniil Medvedev produced a masterclass against Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach his maiden Australian Open final where the Russian will take on eight-time champion Novak Djokovic on Sunday.
Medvedev, who was the runner-up at the 2019 US Open, extinguished the hopes of the 22-year-old from Greece with a 6-4 6-2 7-5 victory to make it 20 wins in a row, including 11 against Top 10 players - a streak that included a win over Djokovic at the ATP Finals in November.
Playing in his third Grand Slam semi-final, Tsitsipas was unable to conjure up another miraculous recovery having already come from two sets down to knock out Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals.
The efforts of that and the metronomic excellence of his opponent combined to make this a one-sided match barring a late rally from the fifth seed.
Medvedev, who won the ATP Finals in London at the end of last year and went unbeaten through Russia's ATP Cup triumph, suffered from cramp during his last match in the all-Russian clash with Andrey Rublev.
But he was ruthless from the very start, defending superbly and using his power and accuracy to crush the hopes of Tsitsipas in two hours and nine minutes.
The 25-year-old was impeccable on serve throughout and he broke his opponent five times on his way to the final as he silenced the pro-Tsitsipas crowd on Rod Laver Arena.
Fourth seed Medvedev pushed Nadal hard in his previous Grand Slam final at the US Open in 2019, coming from two sets down before losing in five, and he must now do what no tennis player has so far managed by defeating Djokovic in an Australian Open final.
Speaking on court, Medvedev said: "(It was) definitely not easy. (Tsitsipas') match with Rafa was kind of the same score in the first two sets, third set Rafa was dominating so I got a little bit scared and tight because it's the semi-final of a slam.
"For us it's not the 50th like for Novak or Roger (Federer) so it was not easy but I'm happy I managed to turn my game on, especially in some tough moments on my serve and really happy to be in the final.
"It's him (Djokovic) who has all the pressure. I just hope that I'm going to get out there, show my best tennis. He has for sure more experience but more things to lose."
Medvedev was dominant in every category against Tsitsipas, losing just seven points on his first serve, hitting 46 winners compared to 19 for the Greek and dropping serve only once.
Melbourne has a big Greek community and the crowd were hugely in Tsitsipas' favour but Medvedev ensured they had very little to cheer from the moment he broke for a 3-2 lead in the opening set.
The Russian had won five of his previous six meetings against Tsitsipas and there has been plenty of spice between them, with the Greek calling his opponent's game boring after one clash in 2019.
Relations have since thawed but Tsitsipas clearly does not enjoy playing Medvedev and he hurled his water bottle to the court in frustration after being broken again in the third game of the second set.
As ball boys and girls with towels cleaned up the mess, Medvedev tried to persuade umpire James Keothavong to give his opponent a warning, but the British official was unmoved.
When Medvedev broke serve again in the opening game of the third set, the match seemed over, but Tsitsipas roused himself to save two more break points in the fifth game, and at last, the crowd made themselves heard.
They were positively raucous in the next game when Medvedev, who unwisely allowed himself to become distracted by what he perceived as time-wasting from his opponent, gave Tsitsipas his first break points and the Greek took one.
From being in total control, Medvedev now found himself on the back foot in rallies and fighting to avoid being taken to a fourth set.
But he rediscovered his best form in the 11th game, breaking serve with a stunning backhand pass and then clinching his first match point.
Only four players: Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have occupied the top two positions in the ATP rankings since July 2005. That will change if Medvedev wins Sunday's Australian Open final.
This was Tsitsipas' third Grand Slam semi-final and his third defeat, and he made no attempt to hide his disappointment.
"It's a shame," said the 22-year-old. "You come so close, you work so hard, and everyone is dreaming of a grand slam victory.
"I just need to find a way to get there and just be in the same state of mind. I've proven that I have the level to beat these players. So let's hope for something better next time. I really hope it comes."
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