The duel between Djokovic and Medvedev in Adelaide

“The two games we played [last year] were crazy, and I feel like I managed to raise my level to one of the best levels I’ve played in 2022,” Medvedev said.

“Even the last one in Turin [at ATP Finals]where I wasn’t motivated in a way, but during the game I found the motivation… I’m really disappointed that I didn’t manage to win it.

“We’ve already played three times in Australia [including the 2021 Australian Open final] — and I won’t go into too much detail — but I’ve lost them all. This is a challenge to play Novak in Australia.

“Maybe it’s easier in Adelaide than Melbourne, you never know, but it’s a challenge and a great test ahead of the Australian Open to play against one of the best and probably the best players of all time in Australian tennis.”

When asked what makes Djokovic so difficult to beat, especially on the biggest stages, Medvedev was direct with his answer.

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“You know you have to get the ball down the line four times, maybe at full power, to win the point,” he said.

“He hits pretty big, even if it doesn’t look like it; he is one of the best returnees of all time. All that makes it tough, and on top of that he’s a mental machine.

“He is capable of saving match points in Grand Slam finals. He’s capable of beating you when you serve for the match. It’s just really tough, but that makes it sweet when you manage to complete this challenge.”

The other men’s semifinal is between American Sebastian Korda and Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.

Korda delivered a 7-5, 6-1 win over ailing fourth-placed Italy’s Jannik Sinner, who required treatment for his left hip, while Nishioka defeated Australian qualifier Alexei Popyrin 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (8-10) defeated ), 6-2 in a back-and-forth encounter.

In the women’s No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka defeated Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 7-5 and set up a duel with Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu, who upset world No. 9 Veronika Kudermetova 7-5, 6 . 4.

Top seed Ons Jabeur came back 4-1 in the opening set to beat Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk and secure her place in the semis, while Czech teenager Linda Noskova followed her dream run with a 6-4, 6-7 (3-7 ) continued. 7: 6 (8: 6) victory over Victoria Azarenka.

Popyrin’s strong week in Adelaide ends in the quarterfinals

Popyrin’s Redemption Week at the Adelaide International ended in the quarter-finals but he looks with renewed optimism that he belongs at the highest level.

The 23-year-old Australian qualifier lost to Nishioka – a fight either player could have won in straight sets, only for the Japanese grinder to eventually prevail in nearly three hours.

Alexei Popyrin fought hard but was edged out by Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka.

Alexei Popyrin fought hard but was edged out by Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.Credit:Getty Images

Popyrin hit 27 aces – 15 in a riveting second set – and will regret squandering a 4-2 lead in the first set, but he put up a tremendous fight to save two match points and prolong the duel into a deciding set .

Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka celebrates after winning the point.

Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka celebrates after winning the point.Credit:AP

That second set lasted more than an hour, and he bounced back from 1-4 and 3-5 tiebreaker deficits to win it by his fourth set point. But 36th-ranked Nishioka took over the better of the two in the final set and the end was near as he broke Popyrin a second time to lead 5-2, after which the Australian requested a medical time-out and complained about “shortness of breath”.

Popyrin arrived in South Australia after a season in which he won a modest five out of 22 games at ATP Tour level and his ranking plummeted from a career high of No. 59 to No. 120.

After qualifying, Popyrin’s first-round win over in-form Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, the sixth-ranked player in the world, ignited his week before recording a hard-fought win over American Marcos Giron.

The Australian Open wildcard, who twice reached the round of 32 at Melbourne Park, recounted Age After the Giron match, that “cockiness” played a role in his fall last year. Popyrin retains a lot of confidence and wants victories like the Auger-Aliassime win to become the norm but believes he has matured and learned a lot from past mistakes.

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Ryan Sederquist

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