Sports

Daniil Medvedev summons Novak Djokovic’s ‘warrior spirit’ to reach semifinals


Daniil Medvedev said he had “zero confidence” when he trailed Felix Auger-Aliassime by two sets in their Australian Open quarterfinal on Wednesday before somehow finding a way to claim victory in a classic at Rod Laver Arena.

The 25-year-old world No. 2 looked like he was running out of ideas as he was being outplayed by Auger-Aliassime.

But after snatching the third set on a tiebreak, he benefited from the closure of the roof to change the momentum of the match and win 6-7 (4-7), 3-6 7-6 (7-2), 7-5, 6-4.

It means he still has a chance of winning a second successive Grand Slam after claiming his first by beating Novak Djokovic in last year’s U.S. Open final.

“I had zero confidence after the two sets,” Medvedev, who saved a match point in the fourth set, told reporters. “He was playing insane, like better than I have ever seen him play, at least against me or in practice.

“I have never seen him play like this. It was unreal. And I didn’t show exactly my best level. Was missing just a little bit too much. Yeah, so third set I had zero confidence in myself and in the outcome of the match. I just tried to fight.”

Medvedev said he summoned Djokovic’s warrior spirit to help him turn the match around — eliciting boos from the crowd.

Djokovic was deported on the eve of the tournament after having his visa canceled after a long-running saga over a COVID-19 exemption.

“I’ve played more times with Novak, like when I started to be good, Rafa (Nadal) and Roger (Federer) got a little bit injured from time to time so I had more matches with Novak,” Medvedev said. “Some matches I watched him win in Grand Slams, being two sets down with (Stefanos) Tsitsipas and (Lorenzo) Musetti in Roland Garros.

“And I was there between the sets, I was like, ‘what would the best players in the world do?’ Which I’m part of, but still young and very far in Grand Slam titles.

“As soon as I was down a little bit, I was like: Just be like Novak. Show him that you are better. It won’t work every time, because again, he had a match point.

“But this time it worked.”

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