If Daniil Medvedev, on the verge of elimination, was looking for inspiration, he chose well.
The World No. 2 was facing a match point in the fourth set of his Australian Open quarter-final against upset-minded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, his back squarely against the wall. The Russian says it was then that he summoned the mindset of a certain 20-time major titlist, a player who once erased two championship points to prevail at Wimbledon: What would Novak Djokovic do?
“I have to take what I can from the best,” said Medvedev, who would rally from a two-sets-to-love deficit for just the second time in his career, saving a match point in the process, to win, 6-7(4), 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-5, 6-4, in four hours and 41 minutes. “Just be like Novak. Show him that you are better.”
Watch Medvedev QF Highlights:
The escape act means that Medvedev, 25, will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals for the second straight year, having topped the Greek star in the last four in 2021, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5. He’s now 6-2 against Tsitsipas, though his opponent has claimed two of their past three encounters, including a quarter-final clash last year at Roland Garros.
“I’m going to try to recover as well as possible, to be ready to play against Stefanos, because he’s a great player,” said Medvedev. “I need to be at my best to beat him.”
Tsitsipas had an easier go of it in his quarter-final, scoring a straight-sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 decision over 11th seed Jannik Sinner in just over two hours. The man whose first major breakthrough came at this same event in 2019, when the then-20-year-old stunned Roger Federer and became the youngest Slam semi-finalist in a dozen years, somehow always finds a way to ramp it up in the second week in Melbourne Park.
“I feel like I’m in the zone,” said Tsitspias, now 23. “I have no plans of getting out of it. It’s part of my game.”
Watch Tsitsipas QF Highlights:
Despite his Astaire-like performance this week in Melbourne, he says he’s keeping it all in perspective.
“When you’re dancing and when you’re doing well, you tend to glorify yourself, as if you are untouchable,” said the fourth seed. “It is important in that process to remain on the ground and to remind yourself that you are a human being who is aiming for something great, and you’re headed towards that direction and you’re doing everything possible in order to achieve that greatness.”
The Medvedev-Tsitsipas head-to-head can get testy at times. In fact, on the very first occasion the Laver Cup teammates faced off, at the ATP Masters 1000 Miami Open presented by Itau in 2018, heated words were exchanged both during and after the match (Medvedev would claim the first-round affair, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.).
“It’s fine,” said Tsitspias of the burgeoning rivalry. “We haven’t really spoken in the past couple of months, but our relationship is competitors on the court and kind of fighting for the same dream.”
Both players are dreaming big. Medvedev, the 2021 US Open champion, is attempting to become the first man in the Open Era to win his second major title in his next Grand Slam appearance. Tsitsipas, meanwhile, continues to chase his first Grand Slam title, having infamously surrendered a two-sets-to-love advantage against Djokovic in the Roland Garros final last year.