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'Destroyed' Medvedev edges Hubi in five sets to reach Australian Open SFs

Third seed will meet Alcaraz or Zverev on Friday
January 24, 2024
Daniil Medvedev is bidding to reach the Australian Open final for the third time in four years.
Graham Denholm/Getty Images
Daniil Medvedev is bidding to reach the Australian Open final for the third time in four years. By ATP Staff

In a four-hour quarter-final full of twists and turns, Daniil Medvedev overcame a fourth-set dip to defeat fellow Top 10 star Hubert Hurkacz on Wednesday at the Australian Open.

With his 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory, the third seed advanced to the Melbourne semis for the third time in four years. On the heels of a Wimbledon semi-final run and a US Open final appearance, Medvedev has now reached the last four at three consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.

"I'm so destroyed right now," Medvedev told John McEnroe with a laugh in his post-match interview. "Not that I ran out of gas, but I was feeling very tough physically in the end of the second set already.

"Fourth set I just [had] no more concentration and I'm like, 'OK, I have to try my best to do whatever I can and let's see. If I lose, I lose, I go home and it's OK.' I'm happy that like this I managed to win."

After slowing Hurkacz's surge in set three, Medvedev hit top form to take command of the match in Rod Laver Arena. Repeatedly repelling his opponent's attacks with inventive passing shots, he took the third set and built a 4-2 lead in the fourth. But Hurkacz continued to attack as Medvedev appeared to tire, and the Pole began to pick off balls at the net in a furious run to snatch the set.

Medvedev bided his time in the final set and pounced for a break in its seventh game, riding a burst of energy and employing his trademark court coverage to great effect. Hurkacz created his lone break point of the fifth in the ensuing game, but Medvedev erased it with a rare serve-and-volley — a tactic he used again soon after to help him serve out the victory. He was also rewarded for going against type with a successful drop shot on match point.

"I really liked the match point!" Medvedev said of the unique finish.

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The victory was Medvedev's second five-set win of the tournament, following a comeback from two sets down against Emil Ruusuvuori in the second round. His lone straight-sets win of the fortnight came against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third round.

After giving a "masterclass" on his deep returning position in his previous on-court interview with Jim Courier, Medvedev surprised Hurkacz by returning from close to the baseline for much of the match. The strategy paid immediate dividends with an opening break, but Hurkacz was almost untouchable on first serve early on with a 94 per cent win rate (34/36) across the first two sets.

"In my mind I knew that against Hubert, amazing serve-and-volley... His ball, he's probably the only one where the ball, even if I stay really far back, it continues to go up, it never really goes down. So it doesn't really work to stay there.

"So talking to Jim, talking in the press conference, I was like, 'I know next match I'm going to stay close, but I'm not going to tell it you right now!' So a little surprise here and there, and I'm happy that it kind of worked."

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In each of the first four sets, one player held a 2-0 lead. There were a combined 24 break points in the match, including 19 in the first three sets. Medvedev won four of his nine break points, while Hurkacz won five of 15.

With Medvedev's passage to the semi-finals, three of the top four seeds are through to that stage in the men's singles draw: top seed Novak Djokovic, third seed Medvedev and fourth seed Jannik Sinner. Second Carlos Alcaraz could make it four with a victory against Alexander Zverev on Wednesday evening, with Medvedev waiting in the wings for the winner of that match. The men's semi-finals will be played on Friday in Melbourne.

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