Tennis: Daniil Medvedev fights back in epic five-set thriller against Alexander Zverev to book Australian Open final

Daniil Medvedev fought back from the brink to beat Alexander Zverev 5-7 3-6 7-6(4) 7-6(5) 6-3 in a thrilling Australian Open semi-final on Friday and stay on course for his second Grand Slam title.

Having suffered heartbreak at Melbourne Park in back-to-back final defeats by Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal in 2021 and 2022, former US Open champion Medvedev will hope to get third time lucky when he meets Italian youngster Jannik Sinner on Sunday.

"Very impressive," third seed Medvedev said of his opponent. "I need to recover well and be 100 percent on Sunday.

"We have a saying 'third time lucky'. Let's see, I can say from experience that it's not always like this but hopefully here it'll work. It would mean a lot. This court is not my best court in terms of my performance and my self-esteem.

"That's why I often have to dig deep at this tournament. I would be the happiest man on the planet but for that I have to play pretty well and win three sets on Sunday."

Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev of Germany shake hands after the match.
Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev of Germany shake hands after the match. Photo credit: Getty Images

Russian Medvedev positioned himself well behind the baseline to counter Zverev's booming serves and extend the rallies but he fired a series of early double faults to fall behind. He clawed his way back from two breaks down to draw level at 5-5.

Zverev struck again to move in front and raised his arms to huge applause after taking the first set with a superb backhand volley, having set up the opportunity by winning the previous point after an exhausting 51-shot rally.

"In the first set, we both played not very good, second set I played better but he played very well, I was a bit lost" said Medvedev, shortly after pointing to his head while celebrating his sixth Grand Slam final appearance.

"In the third set I just started saying to myself, 'I just want to be proud of myself, to fight to the end, fight for every point. If I lose, I lose'. I managed to win so I'm proud."

 The 26-year-old Zverev came into the net more and broke for a 3-2 lead in the second set, but Medvedev did not give up despite looking like he had just run a marathon and pinched the third set in a tiebreak.

"In the third set I was tired physically and I knew I could not run for 40-point rallies anymore, so I decided to go more aggressive. Again, if it doesn't work out, I tried. It started working," Medvedev said.

"I started to make better shots than I had done before, I served better, and the tiebreaks were really unbelievable. A bit lucky at 5-5 but that's tennis."

Medvedev continued to push hard in a tense fourth set and the 27-year-old shrugged off a double fault in the tiebreak to level the contest, before breaking in the fifth game of the decider to lay the platform for his great escape.

It was the second time he had come from two sets down in the tournament to prevail.

"I've never made it this tough, but I'm happy about it because before my statistics in five sets were never that good," Medvedev added. "Physically and mentally, it's tough, five sets and before I wasn't strong enough."

Medvedev, who has often had frosty exchanges with Melbourne Park fans, is slowly becoming a crowd favourite.

"A month ago I wanted to change a little bit, to be stronger mentally, to think less about one guy in the crowd who screams something in the crowd or when you think the referee has done something wrong," Medvedev said.

"I tried to focus more ... far from perfect but I'm trying."