Daniil Medvedev came out on top of a brutal all-Russian clash Thursday against Andrey Rublev to move into his first Australian Open semi-final and inch closer to a maiden Grand Slam title.
The fourth seed had more firepower than his younger, eighth-seeded rival in scorching conditions on Rod Laver Arena, grinding him down 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 to extend his win-streak to 19 matches.
His reward is a last-four clash with either 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal or fifth-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“I would say the three last points when I was getting ready for the serve I could not really move my left leg,” he said, with both players cramping in the “super-tough” conditions.
“But I’ve known him a long time and I know how to neutralise his big shots. That’s definitely one of the best matches I’ve played lately, not even just here but last year,” Medvedev added.
“It was unbelievable, because he was playing really good and I managed to beat him in three sets.”
Medvedev is now riding a 19-match run dating back to November, taking in titles at the Paris 1000, the ATP Finals in London and the ATP Cup with Russia in the lead-up to the opening Grand Slam of the year.
He is into his first semi at Melbourne Park as he continues to knock on the door of Grand Slam success, having reached the 2019 US Open final and the last four in New York in 2020.
Medvedev owned a 3-0 advantage against his former junior foe ahead of their clash, having beaten him over three tough sets at their last meeting in the 2020 US Open quarter-finals.
And little separated them in the opening set on Thursday as they traded long baseline rallies until a stunning passing shot gave Medvedev his first break points in game 12, which he calmly converted to take the set.
Using ice-towels to keep his temperature down, Medvedev was relentless.
After a marathon, 43-shot rally, where he covered 130 metres around the court, he earned another break point at 3-2 in the second set, but Rublev hung on.
However, it was only a matter of time before he struck again and after Rublev hit a stray forehand in game eight to give him a 5-3 lead, Medvedev served out for the set.
Rublev, who had made three Slam quarter-finals before but never gone further, looked exhausted and Medvedev broke straight away in the third set.
Rublev quickly went 0-3 down, shaking his head at the changeover as he sloshed water on his face to try to revive himself.
But he was spent and Medvedev shut out the pain of cramping leg to reach the finish line.