The Journal Gazette
 
 
Thursday, January 27, 2022 1:00 am

Australian Open

Medvedev saves match point, moves into semis

JOHN PYE Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia – He lost the first two sets, was low on confidence and was one point from a quarterfinal exit at the Australian Open, so Daniil Medvedev asked himself the question: What would Novak do?

Fair question. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open champion who finished one win short of a calendar-year Grand Slam in 2021.

Modeling himself after the 20-time Grand Slam champion, Medvedev told himself late Wednesday to make Felix Auger-Aliassime fight for every point.

More than one hour after saving a match point on his serve in the fourth set, the U.S. Open champion finished off a 6-7 (4), 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5, 6-4 comeback victory almost a half-hour after midnight.

“He was playing insane, like better than I have ever seen him play. It was unreal,” Medvedev said. “So third set I had zero confidence in myself and in the outcome of the match.”

Medvedev mentioned his thoughts about Djokovic during his on-court TV interview and in a later news conference. He wasn’t joking.

“I was not playing my best, and Felix ... was all over me,” Medvedev said. “I didn’t know what to do so I (asked) myself, ‘What would Novak do?’

“And I just thought, OK, I’m going to make him work. If he wants to win it, he has to ... fight to the last point.”

Medvedev will have to recover quickly to play Friday against French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas in a rematch of last year’s semifinals at Melbourne Park. Medvedev won at the same stage last year but lost in the final to Djokovic, who wasn’t allowed to defend the title this month because he failed to meet Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination rules.

Tsitsipas had a much easier path to the semifinals, beating No. 11 Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 earlier on Day 10.

Medvedev finished with 49 winners and 53 unforced errors. He served 15 aces but also had nine double-faults. He has been effectively the No. 1 seed since Djokovic was deported on the eve of the tournament following an 11-day visa saga.

 Another who could benefit from Djokovic’s absence is Rafael Nadal.

The 35-year-old Spaniard, seeking a men’s record 21st major title to break a tie with Djokovic and Roger Federer, will play Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini in the other semifinal match.

The temperature dropped for the men’s quarterfinals from the highs of the afternoon, when Danielle Collins beat Alize Cornet 7-5, 6-1 and 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek defeated 36-year-old Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3.

Collins’ win means there are two Americans in the semifinals. Madison Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up, will play Wimbledon champion Ash Barty.


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