MELBOURNE: Two-time runner-up Daniil Medvedev ground past big-serving Hubert Hurkacz into the Australian Open semifinals today as he edged closer to winning a second Grand Slam, admitting it had “destroyed” him physically.
The Russian world No 3 eventually tamed the Polish ninth seed 7-6(7/4), 2-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in draining heat on Rod Laver Arena after a contest lasting nearly four hours.
He will meet either Spanish second seed Carlos Alcaraz or German sixth seed Alexander Zverev for a place in Sunday’s final.
Playing his 100th Grand Slam match, Medvedev is now into an eighth Major semifinal, but has only gone to win only one title – at the 2021 US Open.
He made the final in Melbourne in 2021 and 2022, but succumbed to Novak Djokovic then Rafael Nadal.
“I am so destroyed right now,” he said.
“I honestly was feeling it physically at the end of the second set already and I said to stay tough.
“Fourth set I’m just no more concentration and I have to try my best to do whatever I can.
“I’m happy that like this I managed to win.”
The Pole has one of the biggest and best serves in the game, but Medvedev is arguably the game’s top deep-court returner and he went on the attack from the outset, breaking immediately.
Hurkacz’s nerves settled and a backhand winner from the baseline in game six brought the first set back onto level terms.
It went to a tiebreak, where too many unforced errors from the Polish player proved costly.
Angry at his lapse in concentration, Hurkacz came out firing at the start of the second set, breaking Medvedev straight away and again in the seventh game to level the match.
But a rare double fault from the Pole – only his second of the match – while 30-40 down on his opening serve in set three again gave Medvedev the upper hand.
With Hurkacz stuttering, the Russian dialled up the pressure in the fourth set with an early break, but he faltered on serve at 4-3 to let Hurkacz back and it went to a deciding set.
The critical moment of the match came when Hurkacz was serving at 3-3 in the fifth and sent a backhand long to give the Russian the break he needed to ultimately seal the win.