The world number four, Daniil Medvedev ‘s three set victory over his compatriot, Andrey Rublev, ranked eight, not only highlighted their difference in rankings, but also their approach.
This match was really unbelievable because he was playing really good and I managed to beat him in three sets without a tiebreak. I’m really happy about it Daniil Medvedev
In that all-Russian clash on Rod Laver Arena, Medvedev made the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the first time, his third at Grand Slam level, equalling Alex Metreveli in the Russian list of achievements at a major in the Open Era.
He is also now the fifth Russian male to reach the last four at the AO since 1968, following Metreveli (1972), Yevgeny Kafelnikov (1999-2000), Marat Safin (2002, 2004-05) and, last Monday, Aslan Karatsev.
It was their fourth meeting on the pro tour and their second at the quarter-final stage of a Grand Slam; all going Medvedev’s way and all in straight sets.
On this occasion Medvedev recorded a 7-5 6-3 6-2 victory in what were very humid conditions with the Muscovite dominating with his defensive play as Rublev struggled to find an answer to get a foothold on the match.
Both players had arrived in the last eight undefeated for the season and it was Rublev who found himself losing that record as he saw 30 winners struck against him, conceded his serve on six occasions and made 39 errors in the two-hour match.
“I think my game matches his quite well. I have known him for a long time, so I know how to neutralise his amazing big shots.
“That was definitely one of the best matches I have played. Not only lately but last year too,” Medvedev, the 2019 US Open finalist, said following his win.
“This match was really unbelievable because he was playing really good and I managed to beat him in three sets without a tiebreak. I’m really happy about it.”
In the opening stages the pair tested each other with Rublev gaining the early advantage to go 4-2 only for Medvedev to immediately break back and after a tense 46-minutes, broke through to go a set up.
Little separated the two in the second as Rublev continued to deploy the aggressive attacking game which has seen him collect five titles last year – more than any other player as well as scoring 41 wins which was only equalled by Novak Djokovic – all to no avail.
It highlighted his lack of variety – no plan B as they say – which contrasts greatly with Medvedev’s more all-round game. Rublev failed to convert three break point chances in the seventh game only to then see his rival break him in the next and go on and establish a two-sets-to-love lead.
In the third Rublev struggled in the warm conditions as his chances of reaching his first slam semi faded as Medvedev put together a four-game run to get close to the finishing line.
Despite all Rublev’s late efforts to avoid defeat, Medvedev secured his win on his first match point and immediately called for the trainer!
“I went to the bench for the last game of the match and I started cramping in my quad. I knew he (Rublev) was too, but I had to not show it,” the victor explained.
“I managed to make some big serves. I blocked completely during the three last points (of the match) and I could not move my left leg. It wasn’t easy but I’m happy I won the game.”
Medvedev has now recorded 11 consecutive wins over top 10 players on the Tour since falling to Dominic Thiem at the US Open last year. He will next play either Rafael Nadal or Stefanos Tsitsipas, who play their quarter-final tonight, in what he hopes will be much cooler conditions than those just experienced.
“In the quarter-finals against Andrey we had some unbelievable rallies but after some points it was tough to breathe,” Medvedev admitted after extending his winning streak to 19 matches, already a career-best run which started at the Vienna Open last October.