Medvedev battles back from two sets down to make final

football26 January 2024 13:44| Ā© AFP

Daniil Medvedev battled into a third Australian Open final on Friday with a come-from-behind five-set defeat of Alexander Zverev to set up a title match against Jannik Sinner.

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The never-say-die Russian third seed was in a precarious position on Rod Laver Arena but fought back to win 5-7, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 after four hours 18 minutes.

Ice-cool Italian Sinner will be awaiting him in Sunday's title match after stunning defending champion Novak Djokovic in the other semifinal.

Medvedev has been to the final twice before, losing to Djokovic in 2021 and Rafael Nadal a year later.

It has been a long and arduous road to get back there, with the 27-year-old surviving two four-set battles and a pair of five-set matches before meeting Zverev.

But he proved once again to have the stamina, grinding down the sixth seed to keep alive his quest to collect a second Grand Slam title after winning the 2021 US Open.

He admitted he was "a little bit lost" in the opening two sets.

"But during the third set I just kept saying to myself that if I lose this match I just want to be proud of myself," said the 27-year-old, who is into his sixth final at a major.

"I want to fight until the end, fight for every point. And I managed to win and I'm very proud."

Both men opened with serves to love, but Medvedev then stuttered with two double faults, helping the German to his first break.

He collected another to race 4-1 clear with the Russian racking up too many unforced errors.

But Medvedev gradually began lifting his intensity and scored a double break to level at 5-5 as the match turned into a baseline slugfest.

A third break for Zverev allowed him the chance to serve for the set a second time and he came through a titanic tussle that included one epic rally of 51 shots and another of 40.

He drew first blood again in set two, converting a fourth break point in the fifth game.

The setback dented Medvedev's resolve, with the German increasingly dictating the rallies, pushing him from corner to corner to consolidate and bank a two-set lead.

Medvedev stepped in slightly from his deep baseline position in the third set and it altered the dynamic, with a more aggressive net game pushing the set to a tiebreak that he won.

The fourth set went the way of the third, with nothing between the players until another tiebreak, when Zverev buckled on serve when two points away from the final.

An increasingly frustrated Zverev saved two break points in the fifth game of the deciding set before surrendering on a third with a netted forehand.

It put the Russian 3-2 ahead and he consolidated on serve, with no way back for Zverev.