Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas will square off on Friday with a place in the Australian Open final on the line.
Medvedev has been scorching hot in the last few months, riding an unbelievable 19 match winning streak, which included victories against players like Zverev (three times), Djokovic, Nadal, Thiem, Rublev, Schwartzman or Raonic, and that’s only mentioning players in the Top 15. The Russian has been absolutely on fire lately and has played near perfect tennis at the Aussie Open, barring a scare in the third round when he lost a 2-0 set advantage vs Krajinovic (some health concerns for him in that match), but got himself together to win the decider 6-0. In his last match, Medvedev made light work of his friend Andrey Rublev, 7-5 6-3 6-2.
Tsitsipas is coming after a shocking win against Nadal, a truly stunning comeback victory for the Greek. Tsitsipas seemed completely out of it as Nadal was bullying him in the first two sets, but Stefanos managed to hold his nerve, clean up his game on his own serve, and started to ask Nadal questions. Surprisingly and completely out of character, Nadal was not able to find the right answers, and Tsitsipas ended up winning 3-6 2-6 7-6 6-4 7-5.
Tsitsipas won the previous meeting between the two at the 2019 Masters Cup, but Medvedev leads the H2H 5-1. It’s fair to say that the Russian matches up well against Tsitsipas, but it’s not the kind of massive matchup advantage that can’t be surmounted in certain circumstances. All meetings were pretty close.
I have rated Medvedev very highly since his run to the 2019 US Open final, and his current form only reinforces my opinion – he will be the heir to the Big 3, the leader of the new generation. He has it all – most importantly, the DNA of a champion – capable of playing his best tennis on the biggest stage, and capable of coming up with what is necessary when his back is against the wall.
The way Medvedev has been playing lately, including here in Melbourne, it’s pretty hard to go against him. There is no debate that he has played the best tennis over these past two weeks.
Tsitsipas of course is a dangerous player and his comeback win against Nadal raises his profile quite a lot coming into this semifinal, but I am not sure it should.
It was a really strange match. Tsitsipas was completely outplayed for two sets, before cleaning up his game on his own serve in the third. But he was a non factor on the return, with Nadal winning 29 (!!!!) consecutive service points before the third set tiebreak. Rafa made a couple of uncharacteristic smash errors which lost him the tiebreak, and then … he was just not that good anymore. Maybe it was his sore back or something, but he did not produce excellence anymore, and Tsitsipas was good enough to capitalize. He put pressure on the Rafa serve in the fourth set and eventually got the break. In the fifth, both players hold their serves with ease, but Tsitsipas managed to get a break out of the blue in the 11th game, and suddenly that was it.
The win against Rafa was stunning and obviously Tsitsipas played (very) well and was particularly amazing mentally to come back from 0-2 down against Nadal, but he hasn’t played some kind of otherwordly tennis. And he hasn’t done it in the earlier rounds either. The win will also have been exhausting both physically and psychologically.
I just think Medvedev is playing better tennis (that’s not a debate, actually), he’s better rested, has no emotional baggage from the previous round and the matchup suits him well. I don’t see him losing this match.
Medvedev to cover a -1,5 set handicap is tempting, but lately I preferred to stay on the safe side with my bets, and it suited me well. I don’t expect Tsitsipas to win two sets, but I won’t be shocked if he does. I would definitely be shocked if he wins three (fatigue would likely come into play for him as well if it happens to go the distance).
I’ll back Medvedev to beat Tsitsipas straight up. Actually, I expect him to win the whole thing.