When the newly appointed Australian Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich called Cara Koenen to let her know that she had been selected in the squad to play New Zealand in the upcoming Constellation Cup, Koenen remembers bursting into tears.
Daniil Medvedev is in career-best form as he dispatched of fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets on Friday night at Rod Laver Arena.
Medvedev will now meet Novak Djokovic, the king of Melbourne Park, in Sunday’s Australian Open decider.
The fourth-seeded Russian was on fire from start to finish as he clinically won his way to his 20th straight victory – impressively with 12 of those wins coming against top-ten rivals, also winning titles at the ATP Cup, ATP Finals and Paris Masters.
The masterclass performance did not lie on the stats sheet either, with the 25-year-old striking more than double the amount of winners and half the number of unforced errors.
Medvedev broke Tsitsipas’ serve in the fifth game of the first set to take the wind out of the Greek’s sails early. With confidence growing, Medvedev was able to hold serve and take out the first set 6-4.
The ascendancy would be no different at the beginning of the second set. Despite the resolve of Tsitsipas, he had no answer for Medvedev’s powerful forehand game.
This led to the Russian breaking Tsitsipas in the third game. Medvedev was able to repeat this feat in the seventh game. He then held serve to take out the second set in dominant fashion.
Tsitsipas was looking tired and mentally fatigued at the change-over after the second set. Trailing two sets to love, the crowd was wondering if he could pull something out of his bag of tricks to take it to five, just as he was able to do only two nights earlier against Rafael Nadal.
Melbourne has the second largest Greek population of any city outside of Greece, so it was no surprise that Tsitsipas had the crowd on his side. The Greek contingent were chanting “Tsitsipas, Hellas!” with plenty of blue and white football shirts and flags waving around the stadium.
The third set gave a glimmer of hope to the Greek fan-base as Tsitsipas raised his game to lead the set 5-4.
Uncharacteristic errors were creeping into Medvedev’s game and a second improbable comeback seemed like a chance.
Medvedev then punched through the gears with three consecutive games to close out the match. This showed a class and maturity about Medvedev, with the once-volatile player a serious force to be reckoned with.
“I am happy I managed to keep my nerves because I didn’t make so many bad choices,” he explained, with a relieved look on his face.
With Novak Djokovic chasing his ninth Australian Open grand slam win on Sunday night, the new generation is posing the question to the older guys: ‘is it our time to take over the reigns?’.
“I just hope that I am going to go out there, show my best tennis,” Medvedev said, looking forward to a mouth-watering encounter with Djokovic.
“As we see, I can win some big names if I play good.”