AO 2024 – Day 11: Medvedev and Zverev to lock horns

Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev edge through, Dayana Yastremska and Zheng Qinwen also continued their dream runs Down Under.

Daniil Medvedev Australian Open 2024©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Two stars who have been there and done it, two youngsters propelling themselves into the unknown.

Australian Open 2024 continues to serve up milestone moments and standout performances. Here are the key headlines from Melbourne Park…

Medvedev finds the long road round

2021-22 finalist Daniil Medvedev is pushing himself to the limit to extend his stay this fortnight.

43 winners launched the No.3 seed to a 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 scoreline with Hubert Hurkacz in a gruelling four-hour tussle.

In Medvedev's 100th Grand Slam match (75-25), the 27-year-old earned his third Australian Open semi-final ticket, taking his total time on court to 16 hours and 15 minutes. He's always honest in interviews and he couldn’t hide his fatigue.

"I am so destroyed right now,” admitted Medvedev, draped in an ice towel on court. “After every match I'm in the locker room I'm destroyed.

"Not that I ran out of gas, but I was feeling very tough physically at the end of the second set already. 

"I felt like every game I had a small chance, I managed to take it. So really, really happy and proud about that. Tough matchup, but that makes me even happier to win and be in the semis."

Zverev shuts down Alcaraz

The Alexander Zverev resurgence is peaking in Melbourne.

Four years since falling to Dominic Thiem in the Australian Open semi-finals, the German is back in major contention in the last four.

On Wednesday night Zverev quelled a spirited fightback from world No.2 Carlos Alcaraz 6-1, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-4 to claim his first ever Top 5 triumph at a Grand Slam at the 11th attempt.

In the first two sets, Zverev didn’t put a foot wrong, before Alcaraz roared back from 2-5 down in the third set to force a tie-break. It was human highlight reel time as the Spaniard sent the crowd into delirium with six sensational points in a row.

However, Zverev wasn't to be denied, displaying astonishing retrieval skills for a vital break at 4-4 in the fourth to claw away a monumental victory.

"Playing one of the best players in the world, especially over the last two years, when you're up 6-1, 6-3, 5-2, you start thinking, I mean, we're all human," stated the 26-year-old.

"I'm happy I fought back quite well in the fourth set, didn’t let go and then very happy to finish the match."

Can Zverev master Medvedev?

Medvedev leads their tale of the tape at 11-7, however they’ve never clashed at Grand Slam level.

"He's been kicking my ass a lot over the last over the last year or so," said Zverev with a chuckle. "But maybe this will be the place."

Since returning to the Tour last January, having undergone surgery on three torn ankle ligaments sustained at Roland-Garros 2022, Zverev has hauled himself back to the top with a semi-final showing Paris and then a quarter-final at the US Open. Pretty impressive.

"I had to start over, I had to start from zero," reflected the No.6 seed. "I'm happy to be back in the Top 10, I'm happy to be back in major semi-finals."

Just like Medvedev, Zverev has endured some marathon matches this fortnight, including two matches going the distance to a fifth set super tie-break.

They're driven to prove they belong in the upper echelons, both have proven this resilience and desire to get back to this stage. Who has more in the tank?

"I know what I'm worth," maintained Medvedev. "I know how good I can play. I proved it in US Open (2023 runner-up)… I'm ready."

Dayana Yastremska Australian Open 2024©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Yastremska re-writing history

Driven by her "mission here" to provide a signal of hope for her war-torn homeland, Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska continues to soar in Melbourne.

The qualifier thrived as the front runner 6-3, 6-4 to overcome world No.1 Iga Swiatek's conqueror Linda Noskova.

In doing so, the world No.93 is just the second qualifier in the Open Era to reach the final four in the women's singles at the Australian Open. The 23-year-old is also just the second Ukrainian woman, after Elina Svitolina, to book a major singles semi-final spot.

"It's nice to make a history. It's something new for me and for my generation," said Yastremska with a smile. "I wasn't born yet. I'm really happy to be in my first semi-finals. Yeah, another step is done."

Zheng the comeback Queen

It was another night to remember for Zheng Qinwen.

The world No.15 brushed off an error-riddled start to roar back 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-1 versus world No.75 Anna Kalinskaya.

“I’m just super happy and really excited, this is my first time and I’m really happy to be in the semi-finals,” said the 21-year-old, breaking new ground on the Grand Slam stage.

"I lost the first set and it was really, really difficult. I mean, the opponent, she's playing really good. That was really tough match. So emotional."

Qinwen Zheng Australian Open 2024©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Zheng has also guaranteed she'll crack the Top 10 in next week's rankings. 

“That’s good news and another motivation,” said Zheng. “Last year at the Australian Open, I said I wanted to be in the top 10, and one year later I’m here.”

First duel for first final

Both Yastramska and Zheng have described the ups and downs through their career and in life away from tennis. They've had to be patient, taking their own paths to star on the main stage. 

"When I was struggling in the futures before, I already heard her name, a big name in WTA, so she was already really good player," said Zheng, ahead a first meeting with Yastremska.

"Doesn't matter if she comes from the qualies. Right now I think the people who arrive to semi-final, they all have super well level in this tournament. I have nothing more to say, just compete, focus on the present."

As for Yastremska, the qualifier has insisted enjoyment has been the key factor to her recent success.

"I came here, and I was just focusing on playing each match, on improving," stated the 23-year-old. "I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, responsibility. Now I just took everything out of my bag, and I'm trying to enjoy it.

"I had already experience at Wimbledon when I get to the second week, but I lost fourth round (2019). For me it feels the same. I don't know why. Feels very comfortable and feels like at home."