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Medvedev battles to reach Australian Open semis, Yastremska cruises

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 24, 2024 Russia's Daniil Medvedev celebrates winning his quarter final match against Poland's Hubert Hurkacz REUTERS/Tracey Nearmy


By Shrivathsa Sridhar

MELBOURNE, Jan 24 (Reuters) – Daniil Medvedev pounced on the few chances offered up by Hubert Hurkacz to seal a semi-final spot at the Australian Open on Wednesday, while Dayana Yastremska did the new generation proud by reaching the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Third seed Medvedev, who lost back-to-back Melbourne Park finals in 2021 and 2022, took a step closer to returning to the title clash with a 7-6(4) 2-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 win over Pole Hurkacz.

He had looked on course to wrap up the match in four sets before Hurkacz grew in belief and forced a decider, where Russian Medvedev broke for a 4-3 lead and soaked up the applause before serving out to seal the win.

“I knew how ‘Hubi’ can play and he played quite well. I felt like the games, almost all of them, probably except 2-0 in the first set, I had a small chance,” Medvedev said.

“I managed to take it. So really happy and proud about that. Because with him you don’t get many chances.”

The former U.S. Open champion has sometimes found it hard to get the crowd on his side but has received great backing in Melbourne this year and will hope to ride that support when he plays Carlos Alcaraz or Alexander Zverev in the semis.

Spanish second seed Alcaraz seed meets his German opponent in the final match of the day on Rod Laver Arena after China’s Zheng Qinwen wraps up her match with Russian Anna Kalinskaya.

Organisers were able to breathe easier on Wednesday as the day session finished on schedule. On Tuesday, epic matches involving holder Novak Djokovic and U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff meant the action spilled over into the evening.

Yastremska kept things on track with a swift 6-3 6-4 win over giant-killing Czech Linda Noskova to become the first women’s qualifier to make the last four since the 1978 tournament.

The Ukrainian world number 93, who had already taken out Grand Slam champions Marketa Vondrousova and Victoria Azarenka during her stellar run, meets either 12th seed Zheng or world number 75 Kalinskaya next.

“It’s nice to make history,” said Yastremska, who followed in the footsteps of Christine Dorey, the last qualifier to reach the Melbourne Park semi-finals 45 years ago.

“It’s something new for me and for my generation because the last time it happened it was a long time ago. I wasn’t born yet.

“I think I was a little too emotional. Today before my match I got angry at the practice of my coach. But that’s fine because I could put my emotions away. Another step is done.”

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