Australian Open preview: History favors Medvedev in Tsitsipas showdown

Australian Open preview: History favors Medvedev in Tsitsipas showdown

You might call this one the Juggernaut vs. the Giant Killer based on what Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas have shown this fortnight at Melbourne Park.

You might call this one the Juggernaut vs. the Giant Killer. After his straight-set win over Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals, Daniil Medvedev looks like the former. And after his five-set comeback win over Rafael Nadal a few hours later, Stefanos Tsitsipas obviously qualifies as the latter.

These two have a history, and it mostly favors Medvedev. He won their first five meetings, including one in Miami in 2018 that ended in a war of raised voices and complicated accusations. For a while, Tsitsipas couldn’t find a way to solve the riddle that Medvedev poses with his mix of consistency and unpredictability.

Still, their contests were competitive; only one of their first five matches ended in straight sets, and that was a 7-6 (5), 7-5 win for Medvedev in Shanghai in 2019. Finally, a month later, Tsitsipas made his breakthrough by beating Medvedev in another tight two-setter at the ATP Finals in London.

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Coning into this semifinal, the 24-year-old Russian and the 22-year-old Greek should feel confident in their ability to hang in and compete. Medvedev won his first five-setter, against Filip Krajinovic, while Tsitsipas survived an early marathon of his own against Thanasi Kokkinakis, and then became just the third player to come back from two sets down to beat Nadal. Now they’ll play for a precious chance at a major final: It would be Medvedev’s second, and Tsitsipas’s first.

Tsitsipas said he reached nirvana against Nadal. Will he stay there, or will the effort leave him drained? Unfortunately for Tsitsipas, Medvedev is exactly the kind of guy who can drag you back to earth. Rublev looked like a world-beater in his first four matches in Melbourne, before Medvedev slowly ground him down.

To avoid that fate, Tsitsipas may have to launch an all-out preemptive attack. He’s much more skilled at the net, and plays with much more variety, than Rublev, so it’s not an impossible task. But it would likely require a second straight Herculean, red-line effort. Unlike Tsitsipas, Medvedev has been to this round and won before, and that experience may make the difference. Winner: Medvedev