For a second time this fortnight, Daniil Medvedev has won from two-sets-to-love down – this time defeating Alexander Zverev to reach his third Australian Open final.
From the outset, Medvedev’s gameplan on return was clear, standing closer to Brett Phillips in the SEN commentary box than the baseline.
Yet, it was Zverev who found the first break of the semi-final before quickly mounting a 4-1 opening-set lead.
The Russian rallied back from a double break down to level at 5-5, before conceding his own serve for a third time as Zverev took the opener 7-5.
Continuing to pursue ways through Medvedev’s defence, the German began to approach the front half of the court more consistently in the second; ultimately claiming seventeen of nineteen net points.
The 26-year-old found a further two breaks for the set to take it 6-3 and put himself one set from the 2024 final and a date with Jannik Sinner.
With the Italian’s coach Darren Cahill eagerly watching on, both players served big throughout the third set with twelve consecutive holds, highlighted by an incredible rally at 4-4.
Needing a tiebreak to decide the stanza, it was Medvedev who lifted his level and tightened up to extend the contest.
Service holds continued in the third, ultimately building to a second tiebreak where the match was on the racquet of Zverev, leading 5-4.
A fortuitous return from Medvedev at 5-5 gave the Russian a chance to force a decider, doing so with an ace out wide.
“The side was against the wind. I think I was tight. I shanked it a little bit,” Medvedev revealed, discussing his return at 5-5.
“Either it touches like the tape and stays on my side or it just kind of rolls over onto his side. And it was the second one.”
With both players contesting their third deciding set for the fortnight, it was Medvedev who broke at 2-2 – the first break after twenty-eight consecutive holds – and served his way into a sixth Grand Slam final.
For Zverev, the defeat is just the second of his career from two sets up – the other coming in the 2020 US Open final – and the German suggested he struggled physically as the match wore on.
“I got a bit sick after the Alcaraz match with a bit of fever,” Zverev divulged post-match.
“[I had] a loss of energy at the end of the second set, and against him, it's impossible to play when you're not 100% physically, because he's someone that doesn't give you anything.”
Sunday’s final against Sinner presents a challenge for Medvedev, having lost his past three clashes with the rising Italian, but it is one that he’s prepared for.
“[Those] three matches, all of them were tough. Two tiebreaks and two three-setters. I had my chances.
“If I want to beat him, I have to raise my level on a whole different level, and I will try to do it.”
The world number three has met Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in each of his past five major finals and will have experience on his side this time against first-time finalist Sinner.
“I hope that this experience can help me. First final is different for everyone,” Medvedev told the media.
“I have no idea how Jannik is going to be, but I will try my best, I will fight for my life, and let's see who wins.”