Medvedev miracle! Aus Open PR nightmare avoided after ‘lucky’ world No.3 completes stunning comeback over Zverev
Russian ice-man Daniil Medvedev has stormed back from two sets down to break the heart of Alexander Zverev and book a spot in his third Australian Open final.
The No.3 seed will chase his second major title on Sunday against rising Italian superstar Jannik Sinner, who earlier on Friday ended super Serb Novak Djokovic’s perfect 10-from-10 semi-final record at Melbourne Park with a commanding four-set win.
With Zverev in command of the opening exchanges, Medvedev looked on the verge of a straight-sets exit on Friday night when he dropped the opening two sets of the night semi-final on Rod Laver Arena.
But the 27-year-old hung tough to win the next two sets in tiebreaks and dominated the decider against his increasingly dejected rival to triumph 5-7, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3.
The flashpoint came at 5-5 in the fourth set tie-break, when a Zverev serve was met with a shock Medvedev drop shot that caught the German totally off guard – a clutch moment the Russian admitted post-match was by accident.
“A little bit lucky on 5-5 return, but that’s tennis!” Medvedev joked with Nine‘s Jim Courier.
“The slice was intentional, but the drop shot with backspin or something against the win was not really intentional.
“But when I touched it and when I saw it going, I was like ‘just don’t touch the net, just don’t go into the net!’ Because it was either touching the tape or it’s in, and that’s tough for him [Zverev].
“Sometimes you need to be lucky, and today’s my day.”
Medvedev has played in five previous major finals, but has only won one of them – a straight-sets victory over Djokovic at the 2021 US Open.
The first set on Friday night was a topsy-turvy affair, with Zverev bolting out of the blocks with two early breaks of serve to lead 4-1.
Medvedev got both breaks back, only for the German to clinch the opener in a dramatic 12th game.
The German extended his domination at the net in the second set, breaking Medvedev’s serve in the fifth and ninth games to take a stranglehold.
Medvedev had been taken to five sets in two of his previous five matches at Melbourne Park – a second-round tussle against Emil Ruusuvuori which finished at 3.39am and his quarter-final against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.
Unsurprisingly, it was Zverev who looked the feresher of the pair in the early stages, but the Russian hung tough in the third set and clinched it in a tiebreaker.
There has been bad blood between the pair in the past and it threatened to boil over again late in the third set when the Russian demanded to see a replay of a close line call in Zverev’s favour.
“He knows the ball was inside the line,” Zverev complained to chair umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore.
“He’s doing a show again.”
The Russian then benefited from a large slice of luck in the fourth-set tiebreaker when a mis-hit return off the frame dropped in, gifting him a set point.
Medvedev claimed the crucial break in the fifth game of the decider after Zverev missed a straightforward volley to go down 15-40 and then got a code violation for twice smashing his racquet into the net in frustration.
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Now dominant, Medvedev broke again in the ninth game to close the match out in four hours and 18 minutes.
The only other time Zverev had lost a five-setter from two sets up was the 2020 US Open final to Thiem.