Melbourne: Daniil Medvedev rallied from two sets down and saved a match point before beating No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7 (4), 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5, 6-4 today to move into the Australian Open semifinals.
The U.S. Open champion’s bid to become the first man in the Open era to win his second Grand Slam title in the next major tournament is still on track after the 4-hour, 42-minute comeback victory.
Medvedev will play Friday against French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas in a rematch of last year’s semifinals at Melbourne Park. Medvedev won at the same stage last year but lost the final to Novak Djokovic.
Tsitsipas beat No. 11 Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
Facing defeat Wednesday, Medvedev got a break. A six-minute delay in the third-set tiebreaker for the roof on Rod Laver Arena to be closed during a rain shower swung the momentum mostly his way.
Auger-Aliassime won only one of the last six points in the tiebreaker after dominating for the first two sets. He missed a match point on Medvedev’s serve in the 10th game of the fourth set.
Medvedev saved it with a big first serve out wide and then held with an overhead winner.
“I was not playing my best, and Felix was playing unbelievable, serving unbelievable - he was all over me,” Medvedev said. “I didn’t know what to do so I (asked) myself, What would Novak do?’ And I just thought, OK, I’m going to make him work. If he wants to win it, he has to ... fight to the last point.”
The 25-year-old Russian broke Auger-Aliassime’s serve in the next game game and held to level the match at two-sets all. He then got another service break when the 21-year-old Canadian double-faulted in the third game of the deciding set.
It still wasn’t over yet.
Serving for the match, Medvedev had to save two break points before closing it out about an hour after saving a match point.
Auger-Aliassime had lost all three previous matches against the second-ranked Medvedev, including a straight-set loss in the U.S. Open semifinals last September.
But he was the aggressor in the first two sets, keeping Medvedev off balance with his forehand, up-tempo game and athleticism.
It forced Medvedev to play more inside the baseline to claw his way back in the third and fourth sets.
Medvedev had his upper left leg taped and was visibly frustrated by people in the crowd talking and making noise between his first and second serves.
He uncharacteristically served double-faults to drop serve in the 11th game and, after breaking back when Auger-Aliassime was serving for the first set, twice more in the tiebreaker.
Medvedev didn’t get a look at a break point in the second or third sets, but managed to convert when he got the chances late.
He’s been effectively the No. 1 seed since Djokovic, the defending champion, was deported on the eve of the tournament for failing to meet Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination rules.
Another who could benefit from Djokovic’s absence is Rafael Nadal.
21st major title
The Spaniard, seeking a men’s record 21st major title to break a tie with Djokovic and Roger Federer, will play Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini in the other semifinal match.
The temperature dropped for the men’s quarterfinals from the highs of the afternoon, when Iga Swiatek beat 36-year-old Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3, with the payoff being a spot in the semifinals against Danielle Collins.
“This match was crazy,” the 20-year-old 2020 French Open champion said. “First set I think my mistake was I had so many break points, I felt like I missed my chances. In the second set . I felt like she’s playing so fast that I can’t be tight. I had to finish my forehands.”