MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Daniil Medvedev will once again be ready to play the role of dream wrecker when he takes on Rafa Nadal in Sunday’s Australian Open final.
The Russian became the newest member of the Grand Slam winners’ club when he triumphed at the U.S. Open last September, in the process dashing Novak Djokovic’s hopes of winning a men’s record 21st major.
On Friday, the world number two dispatched Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 in a fiery encounter to reach his second successive Melbourne Park final, and it did not take him long to admit that he will be eager to topple crowd favourite Nadal.
Should that happen, the Spaniard will remain in a three-way tie with Djokovic and Roger Federer on 20 majors.
“I’m happy to have the chance to try to stop, one more time, somebody from making history,” said the grinning Russian, whose New York triumph also prevented Djokovic from completing a rare calendar Grand Slam.
Sunday’s showpiece will be Medvedev’s fourth major final and each time he has faced either Djokovic or Nadal, who beat the 25-year-old in an epic U.S. Open final in 2019.
“They are really strong, huh? …. and I always have them there waiting for me,” he told reporters.
If Medvedev lifts the Norman Brookes Cup on Sunday, he will become the first man in the professional era to win his first two Grand Slam titles in succession after his triumph in New York last September.
There is no doubting the quality of tennis Medvedev is capable of producing on hard courts, as he has demonstrated with his deep runs at the Australian and U.S. Opens over the past few years.
But the 25-year-old has a short fuse when it comes to his temper, noting he was “insanely crazy” when he first started playing on the tour.
For a period against Tsitsipas, that flaw threatened to throw him off course.
The Russian started strongly against Tsitsipas, dropping only one point in his first six service games before seizing the first set in a tiebreaker.
But his anger boiled over after he dropped serve late in the second set as he felt Tsitsipas was being coached by his father from the sidelines — which is against the rules.
During the changeover he continued to berate umpire Jaume Campistol for staying silent, calling him a “small cat”.
The Greek was later issued a warning for coaching, adding legitimacy to Medvedev’s complaint.
After securing his spot in the final, the Russian apologised to the umpire as they shook hands.
He said he had been working to control his temper for years, not least because of his belief that it had an adverse impact on his form.
“I regret it all the time because I don’t think it’s nice. I know that every referee is trying to do their best,” he said.
“So I’m actually really respectful of players who never, almost never, show their emotions because … it’s tough. I can get really emotional. I have been working on it.”
On returning to the court after dropping the second set, Medvedev faced two break points in the opening game as his emotions swirled but he was able to regain his composure.
With the match poised at 4-4 in the third set, an epic contest between the two rivals seemed to be on the cards.
But then Medvedev broke the Tsitsipas serve and ran away with the semi-final.
(Reporting by Courtney Walsh; editing by Pritha Sarkar)