Daniil Medvedev overcame a mid-match meltdown to defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas and set up an Australian Open final clash with Rafael Nadal.
Medvedev’s 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory means he will play for a second successive grand slam title after his maiden success at the US Open last September. It is also the second year in a row he has made the final at Melbourne Park, having lost to Novak Djokovic 12 months ago.
But much of the attention will focus on Medvedev’s extraordinary rant at the umpire late in the second set, when he accused Tsitsipas of receiving coaching from his father, Apostolos. “I don’t think bad emotions help me too much,” the Russian said afterwards. “Many times I lose the match because of this. As soon as I’d done it I was like, ‘that was a big mistake’. But I’m happy I managed to re-concentrate at the beginning of the third set. I tried my best and I’m happy it worked.”
Tsitsipas’s father has been repeatedly warned for coaching – and was later in this match as well – but it was mainly an indication of just what this match meant to Medvedev. There is bad blood between the world No 2 and Tsitsipas dating back to a fiery clash in Miami four years ago and exacerbated by their very different characters.
This was their ninth meeting and second in a row in the semi-finals in Australia, with Medvedev winning comfortably 12 months ago after Tsitsipas’ big victory over Nadal. The Greek came into the tournament with doubts over his fitness following elbow surgery, but he was in top form against Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals, while Medvedev survived an almighty scrap against Felix Auger-Aliassime, recovering from two sets down and saving a match point.
There was almost nothing to choose between them in a high-quality first set, but it was Medvedev who came from 4-1 down to take the tie-break. The Russian then retrieved an early break in the second before a double fault to drop serve again and a warning for a visible obscenity prompted his meltdown after nine games. “His father can talk every point,” screamed Medvedev at Jaume Campistol. “Are you stupid? I’m talking to you, look at me. How can you be so bad in the semi-final of a grand slam?”
After Tsitsipas clinched the set, Medvedev had more words with Campistol regarding his coaching complaints, ending by calling the official a “small cat”. Both men then left the court for bathroom breaks, and Medvedev composed himself just in time to save two more break points in the opening game of the third set.
The pressure gradually grew on Tsitsipas and his resistance ran out in the 10th game, Medvedev clenching his fist at the decisive breakthrough. By the fourth set, Tsitsipas was a spent force, shots that had found the lines in the opening two hours of the contest now sailing long and wide as Medvedev surged into his fourth grand slam final.
Medvedev faces Nadal on Sunday after the veteran Spaniard beat Italy’s Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in Friday’s other semi-final.
“I’m going to play again against one of the greatest,” said Medvedev. “What’s funny is I’m going to play again against someone going for a 21st title. I think Novak will be watching this one in two days also. Grand slam finals are special. I’m ready.”