Medvedev Wins Miraculous 5-Setter To Reach Aussie Open Final
Medvedev conquers Zverev 5-7, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-3
It was the best of times, the worst of times, and best of five. Daniil Medvedev the world #3 and two-time Australian Open finalist, had led Sascha Zverev 11-7 in the head-to-head including 5 of 6 last season, but had yet to face-off in a grand slam. The 2021 US Open champion had been pushed to the brink by world #9 Hubi Hurcacz in the previous round, going the distance and four hours.
Zverev the former world #2, reascended the rankings last season after missing the last half of 2022 due to a horrific ankle injury that required multiple surgeries. The twenty-six-year-old German currently ranked and seeded sixth, survived two five-setters – both requiring a final set 10-point tiebreak – en route to his second semifinal down under.
On a cool evening on Rod Laver Arena, Medvedev served first and with three consecutive winners including an ace up the tee, held at love and Zverev returned the favor, making 4/4 first serves for a love hold to level.
Medvedev’s serve went Mia as quickly as he plays between points. The twenty-seven-year-old from Russia opened with a double fault and with another faced triple break point and dumped serve when Zverev ripped a backhand crosscourt.
Zverev made 4/5 first serves and with a huge inside-out forehand, consolidated the break for 3-1. Medvedev could not buy a first serve and while he hit two consecutive forehand winners, donated two consecutive double faults to drop serve.
The twenty-six-year-old German opened the sixth with two netted backhands and with two forehand errors, gave back the break. The former world #1 gifted another double fault but consolidated the break for 3-4 with two spectacular winners off the ground.
Zverev won a 23-shot rally with a well-struck overhead and though he donated three unforced errors and faced deuce, held for 5-3 with four winners including three aces while Medvedev served to stay in the set, made 4/6 first serves including an ace on game point.
CIRO DE LUCA / REUTERS
Zverev missed 4/6 first serves, lost a 34-shot rally to face break point, and dumped serve with another forehand error. Acutely aware that his final opponent would be Jannik Sinner and not the ten-time champion Novak Djokovic, it’s reasonable that he would be tight and tentative serving for the set.
Medvedev hit with no pace-extracted errors but with his serve out of order, the 20-time titlist gave back the break with three unforced errors and a winning lob from Zverev.
Zverev opened the twelfth with an overhead smash but faced two break points the last after a 40-shot rally. The 21-time titlist was sucking air as he prepared to serve yet punched a backhand stab volley to win a 51-shot rally and secure the set 7-5 with a crisp crosscourt backhand volley.
The Russian served first in the second and though he missed 6/8 first serves, faced deuce and break point, held for 1-0 with his third ace while Zverev opened with an ace up the tee and held to 30 to level.
Medvedev attempting to shorten the points and save his legs, held to 30 with a confident crosscourt backhand from the forecourt and the German returned the favor holding to 30 with a backhand drop volley and overhead smash.
Medvedev serving with new balls, struck two winners including another ace but faced two deuce and four break points before dropping serve with a mishit backhand lob. Zverev continued to tee off on any short ball and it paid dividends. The two-time ATP Finals champion hit three outstanding winners and consolidated the break for 4-2.
Medvedev opened the seventh with his fifth ace and with another, held at love for 3-4. Zverev opened with a backhand volley and with two additional, consecutive winners, led 5-3. Medvedev serving to stay in the set, faced double set point and conceded it following three forehand errors.
A set away from his first Australian Open final, the German maintained his aggressive ball striking and forward movement. He served first in the third and with two consecutive winners, held at love while Medvedev upped the ante with three remarkable winners, the last an inside-out backhand volley to hold at love to level.
Zverev donated two consecutive unforced errors and faced two deuce and double break points yet held with his fifth ace and a backhand volley winner. Medvedev rediscovered his serve making 5/5 and held easily to 15 with two winners including another at the net.
Zverev serving with a new racquet and balls, made 4/4 first serves and held at love for 3-2 with his sixth ace while Medvedev hit three winners including two aces, and held to 15 for 3-3. Zverev struck three consecutive winners including an ace up the tee and held at love for 4-3 while Medvedev escaped 0-30 with three winners including his ninth ace and a sweet forehand drop volley to hold.
Zverev opened the ninth with two formidable groundstroke winners and though he gifted his first double fault and faced two deuce and break point, held for 5-4 with a forehand down the line and an ace up the tee.
Medvedev serving under extreme pressure to stay in the match, opened with a brilliant backhand drop volley winner and with his tenth ace and a colossal serve out wide, held for 5-5. Zverev made 4/5 first serves and held easily to 15 while Medvedev with his eleventh ace, held at love to force the breaker!
Medvedev earned the minibreak after pummeling a forehand return but relinquished it with a netted backhand. They changed ends on serve but with a netted backhand from the German, Medvedev took the lead and clinched the breaker 7-4 following two unforced errors from Zverev.
Medvedev served first in the fourth with the momentum and crowd on his side. He successfully flipped the script by employing the drop shot, augmenting the pace, and altering his return position. He made 3/4 first serves and held at love while Zverev hit three winners including his ninth ace and held at love to level.
Medvedev trusting his tactics and fitness once again held at love and his opponent replied in kind with a second consecutive love hold. The Russian hit two fantastic backhand winners and with a monster serve up the tee, held to 30 for 3-2.
At the three-hour mark, Zverev held easily to 15 with a stunning forehand down the line while Medvedev with an ace out wide and relentless precision off the ground, held at love for 4-3. The German hit a 127mph ace out wide but faced two break points following two winners from Medvedev but saved both and held for 4-4.
Medvedev gifted two consecutive backhand errors but with an ace out wide and an incredible backhand down the line, held to 30 for 5-4. Zverev serving to stay in the set, hit two fantastic forehands and held at love to level despite being stretched from corner to corner.
Medvedev missed 3/5 first serves yet held to 15 for 6-5 while Zverev hit three winners including an ace up the tee to hold at love to force the breaker. One needed seven points to win, the other to survive.
They each hit an ace and multiple winners but Medvedev, with his sixth double fault, was two points from the locker room. With two serves, the German’s fate was in his hands, but Medvedev altered their destinies with two winning forehands and his fourteenth ace on set point.
There would be no ten-point tiebreak to decide the fifth. Zverev served first and with his thirteenth ace, held at love while Medvedev leveled with three consecutive well-placed serves.
Both held easily to 15 in their next service games but in the next, Zverev donated three consecutive forehand errors and faced double break point. He received a code violation for smashing the top of the net with his racquet. After the net was resecured, he faced another break point and dumped serve with a netted forehand.
Medvedev maintained his composure and consolidated the break for 4-2 with six first serves and a crosscourt forehand winner. The German reeling from the missed opportunities and sporadic play, did well to regroup and hold to 15 for 3-4 while Medvedev held easily for 5-3 following four consecutive errors from Zverev.
The German now four points from defeat, hit two consecutive winners but it was insufficient as he conceded the game, set, and match with four unforced errors.
It was a high-octane often high-quality match between two worthy adversaries. No one could have predicted – including Medvedev – that after sixteen-plus hours on the court heading into the semifinal, he would have the mental and physical fortitude to win in five.
They both served fourteen aces and while Medvedev donated six doubles, Zverev gifted just one. Their serving stats were comparable as were their returns, but it was the Russian’s exceptional play in both tiebreaks and the German’s unforced error count that proved pivotal.
Medvedev lost the two previous finals he played in Melbourne; in 2021 to Djokovic in straights and the following year to Rafa Nadal 5-7 in the fifth.
He is hoping the third time is the charm. The former world #1 will battle an in-form Jannik Sinner who dispatched the ten-time Australian Open champion Djokovic in four to reach his first grand slam final.
While Medvedev leads the head-to-head 6-3, including two at the start of last season, the young Italian changed the narrative last fall winning three in a row including two finals (China & Vienna) and the semis at the ATP World Tour Finals.
This will be their 10th tour-level meeting and first at a slam.