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28 Jan, 2022 11:21

Medvedev wins explosive grudge match to reach Australian Open final

Daniil Medvedev won a bad-tempered semifinal in Melbourne to set up a showdown with Rafael Nadal
Medvedev wins explosive grudge match to reach Australian Open final

Daniil Medvedev will face Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final after the Russian beat Greek rival Stefanos Tsitsipas in four sets in a drama-packed encounter in Melbourne.    

Second seed Medvedev was imperious as he dominated Tsitsipas on his serve in a match which featured an explosive rant from the Russian at the umpire as Medvedev claimed the Greek was breaking the rules by receiving coaching from his father on the sidelines.

But after dropping the second set Medvedev kept his cool to win in four sets, 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-1, moving on to his fourth Grand Slam final.

US Open champion Medvedev, 25, will play Nadal in Sunday’s showpiece after the Spanish sixth seed overcame Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in four sets earlier in the day.

Nadal is aiming for an outright record 21st Grand Slam title, while Medvedev is looking to become the first man to follow up a maiden Major title with victory at his next Grand Slam appearance.

Tensions flare in coaching row 

The showdown between Medvedev and Tsitsipas was billed as something of a grudge match considering the past on-court tensions and verbal exchanges between the duo.

Those tensions may have bubbled under the surface in more recent times but Friday’s meeting under the roof at Rod Laver Arena saw the animosity resurface at the end of an extraordinary second set.

Taking aim at umpire Jaume Campistol, Medvedev accused the official of turning a blind eye to Tsitsipas receiving coaching from the sidelines, which is banned. 

After calling Campistol “a small cat,” Medvedev stormed off court for a change of clothes between sets but did not allow the rant to affect him as he recaptured his cool to dominate sets three and four, after what had been a tight opening in Melbourne in which both men largely denied each other opportunities on their serve.

In the end it was Medvedev whose big-serving game asserted itself as he ruthlessly shut down the threat from the 23-year-old Greek, who was eventually handed a code violation for receiving coaching in something of a moment of vindication for his Russian opponent. 

Tsitsipas had been aiming for a second Grand Slam final appearance to match his run at Roland-Garros last season, but instead it is Medvedev who is into a fourth Major showpiece as the Russian has the chance to go one better than last year in Melbourne, when he was beaten by Novak Djokovic in the final.


Can Medvedev derail Nadal's bid for history? 

Medvedev and the 35-year-old Nadal have met in a Grand Slam final before, with the Spaniard winning a five-set epic in New York in 2019.

This time round in Melbourne the duo have set up a showdown in the absence of nine-time champion Novak Djokovic, whose ugly deportation saga overshadowed the start of the tournament.

After Djokovic’s run of three successive Australian Open titles, Nadal will aim to carve his name onto the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup for the second time on Sunday in what will be his sixth final Down Under.

Despite his remarkable career, Nadal is seen as a surprise finalist this year in Melbourne after only just returning from a layoff due to a foot injury which kept him out for the second half of last year.  

For world number two Medvedev, Sunday’s final offers the chance for a first Melbourne title after he fell to Djokovic in straight sets last year.  

“I’m ready, I know that Rafa is a very strong player and I’ll need to show my best,” said Medvedev in his post-match comments.