Australian Open: Daniil Medvedev wins Russian duel against Andrey Rublev for semis spot

Dubai: Russian Daniil Medvedev outclassed friend and compatriot Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 in sweltering conditions at Melbourne Park on Wednesday to secure a spot in the Australian Open semi-finals and extend his winning streak to 19 matches.

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The pair rose up through the ranks together, playing against each other on the junior circuit, and two weeks ago combined to hand Russia the ATP Cup title.

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At senior level Rublev has enjoyed little success against Medvedev and Wednesday marked a fourth consecutive straight-sets defeat by the 2019 US Open finalist.

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Following his victory at a scorching Rod Laver Arena, Medvedev, at 25 two years Rublev’s senior, needed a massage on his left thigh before proceeding to his on-court interview and said he was cramping towards the end of a contest lasting two hours and five minutes.

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“Super tough, if you come to Australia and it’s 40 (degrees) each day, it’s tough but you get used to it but we’ve had a couple of days when it was 20 degrees,” said Medvedev.

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Rublev hit plenty of heavy groundstrokes at the start but struggled to find a way past his opponent’s defence. After a mid-set trade of breaks, Medvedev took the opener with a break to love in the 12th game.

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The rallies grew longer as the match progressed and Rublev won a gruelling 43-shot rally in the sixth game, then slumped down beside his towel on the side of the court.

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Rublev held serve for 3-3 and had three breakpoint opportunities in the next game but was unable to convert. Medvedev sensed his opportunity, breaking for a 5-3 lead and then seeing out the second set.

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With his energy sapped and frustrations growing there was no way back for Rublev in the third set as Medvedev jumped out to a 4-0 lead before sealing the contest with a forehand winner.

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“We had some unbelievable rallies, I’m one of the first players to make Andrey so tired … It’s hard to play (a friend) but we’re all so competitive, just need to win, get to that Grand Slam semi-final,” Medvedev said.

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“That was one of my best matches … I beat him in three sets not even with a tiebreak so I’m really happy.” Next up for the ATP Finals winner will be a last-four meeting against either second-seeded Spaniard Rafa Nadal or fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.

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Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev will meet world number one Novak Djokovic in the other semi-final on Thursday, with the prospect of an all-Russian men’s final looming on Sunday.

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“It’s unbelievable, I’m so happy for Aslan, he’s made history. I don’t know what he did in the pandemic, probably just worked hard I guess,” Medvedev said of 114th-ranked Karatsev, who at 27 is making his Grand Slam main draw debut.

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“If we have an all-Russian final, it’s going to be a dream come true, but we both have tough matches. It’s so good for Russian tennis.”

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