Medvedev Magnificent Against Rublev, Reaches Australian Open SFs
Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev dominated for Team Russia en route to the ATP Cup title. But on Wednesday, only one of the longtime friends was able to advance to the Australian Open semi-finals.
Under the hot Melbourne sun, Medvedev battled past Rublev 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 to reach the last four Down Under for the first time. The fourth seed, who will next play second seed Rafael Nadal or fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, has won 19 consecutive matches dating back to the start of last year’s Rolex Paris Masters.
“Andrey was definitely one of the favourites to go far in this tournament," said Medvedev. "To win this match in three sets, especially [with] how physical it was, was [an] amazing level from me. I'm really happy about it.... We had some unbelievable rallies. I think the match was high quality. It's the first time to be honest [that] I saw Andrey tired.”
Both Russians walked onto the court inside Rod Laver Arena full of confidence, undefeated on the season, each holding an 8-0 record. But Medvedev frustrated the seventh seed with his combination of brick wall defence and opportunistic offence to triumph after two hours and five minutes. Medvedev now leads Rublev 4-0 in their ATP Head2Head series (10-0 in sets).
The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion has now won 11 consecutive matches against Top 10 opponents. By virtue of reaching the semi-finals, Medvedev is guaranteed to reach at least a career-high No. 3 in the FedEx ATP Rankings following this event.
Rublev, who led the ATP Tour with five titles last season, entered the match pursuing a spot in his first Grand Slam semi-final. From the early stages, he hammered away at his groundstrokes. But Medvedev’s movement and neutralising defence provided a problem Rublev could not consistently solve.
Although Rublev had the most power on the court, it was not enough to cause Medvedev to panic at any stage. However, when Medvedev was able to step into the court and play offence, he typically had his way.
Medvedev let slip an early break advantage in the first set, but he bounced back and broke to love to win the opener, with Rublev making a costly error on set point.
Most Grand Slam SFs - Russian Men (Open Era)
|Player||# of SFs Reached|
|1) Marat Safin||7|
|2) Yevgeny Kafelnikov||6|
|3) Nikolay Davydenko||4|
|T4) Daniil Medvedev||3|
|T4) Alex Metreveli||3|
As the match wore on, Rublev won some battles, but they ultimately cost him in the war. At 2-3, 40/40, Rublev won a gruelling 43-shot rally, prompting him to sit down by his towel on the side of the court. The seven-time ATP Tour champion held his serve and earned three break points in the next game. But he was unable to capitalise on that opening, and Medvedev surged into command from there.
Rublev, who appeared increasingly tired and frustrated, left the court after the second set to try to reset, but Medvedev was ruthless. The fourth seed immediately broke in the third set by attacking his countryman’s backhand, and he never looked back. Medvedev only lost one service game, and he struck 14 aces en route to the semi-finals.
“If we take all the matches that I've played against him, today he played his best level,” said Rublev. “He was playing really well today, and he deserved to win because he was really better than me.
“There were only two turning [points] where I felt [something] could happen,” said Rublev. "At 5-5 in the first set, I had little chances that maybe if I would have broken him, it could be different story… and in the second set at 3-3, the break point that I had could [also] change [the match]. Because I had an easy, easy ball to finish [the point] and I didn't make it.”
Did You Know?
Medvedev and Aslan Karatsev are the third pair of Russian men to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam. Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin accomplished the feat at the 2001 US Open and Nikolay Davydenko joined Mikhail Youzhny in the last four at Flushing Meadows in 2006.