Daniil Medvedev is headed back to the Australian Open final for the third time in four years.
And he hopes to finally break through.
The No. 3-seeded Russian stormed back from two sets down to beat No. 6 Alexander Zverev, 5-7, 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-3 to reach the final. He will face No. 4 Jannik Sinner on Sunday after the 22-year-old Italian dominated 10-time Australian Open champion and No. 1 Novak Djokovic in four sets to end Djokovic’s 33-match winning streak in Melbourne.
Medvedev has now beaten Zverev in six of their last seven encounters. He is 6-3 against Sinner.
“First set honestly I think we both didn’t play that good,” Medvedev told Jim Courier on court. “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.”
It was just two years ago that Medvedev held a two sets to love lead on Rafael Nadal in the final, only to lose in five sets. In 2021, he fell to Djokovic in straight sets.
The last time there was an Australian Open final without Djokovic, Nadal or Roger Federer was 2005, when George W. Bush was beginning his second term.
In the third set tiebreak, Medvedev earned a mini-break for a 5-4 lead and then served it out on his serve, staying in the match when the German hit a second-ball backhand deep.
In the fourth set breaker, Zverev served and volleyed trying to end the match. Medvedev flinched and double-faulted to give Zverev a 5-4 lead on his serve. Medvedev got the mini-break back with a forehand winner as he raced toward the net.
And Medvedev seized a 6-5 lead with a drop shot return off Zverev’s serve. Zverev appeared to slip slightly in his attempt to retrieve it.
Medvedev then served it out with an ace, forcing a fifth set.
Serving at 2-all in the fifth, Zverev smacked an easy forehand wide and then smashed the net, earning a code violation from the umpire.
Medvedev broke Zverev for 3-2 when the German hit a forehand into the net.
With Zverev serving at 3-5, 30-all in the fifth, he sailed a backhand long, giving Medvedev a match point.
Zverev hit a forehand that clipped the net and sailed wide, sending Medvedev into the final.
The two men, who are not fond of one another, had a respectful handshake at the net.
Medvedev’s first-serve percentage increased from 50% across the first two sets to 71% in the fifth 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.”