MELBOURNE: Third seed Daniil Medvedev was forced to dig deep into his reserves to outlast Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in an epic quarter-final on Wednesday and reach the last four of the Australian Open for third time.
The Russian, twice a losing finalist at Melbourne Park, went toe-to-toe with the big Pole for almost four energy-sapping hours on Rod Laver Arena.
Ninth seed Hurkacz, who was playing in only his second Grand Slam quarter-final but had a winning career record against Medvedev, twice came from a set down and made the Russian work hard for every single point.
Former U.S. Open champion Medvedev, who saved 10 of the 15 break points he faced over the contest, grizzled and moaned his way around the court but finally secured a place in his eighth Grand Slam semi-final with the most delicate of drop shots.
"I'm so destroyed right now," said Medvedev, who played a five-set marathon into the early hours of the morning in the second round.
"In the fourth set ... I'm like 'I just have to try my best to do whatever I can and let's see, if I lose, I lose and go home'. I'm happy that I managed to win like this. I really liked the match point."
The players look well matched from the opening set, both solid on their first serves but looking fragile on their second and claiming a break apiece.
Medvedev mixed it up a bit by coming into the net to show off his volleying skills as he clinched the tiebreak but Hurkacz came out firing in the second set.
The Pole was rewarded with a slew of winners and an early break, while Medvedev needed to show his mettle through four deuces to avoid going 3-0 down.
Hurkacz was now getting a look at Medvedev's serve in every return game and did get his second break for 5-2 before holding to love to level up the contest.
It was Medvedev's turn to make a hot start to the third set, the Russian racing out to a 3-0 lead on the back of a single break handed to him when the Pole double faulted.
Hurkacz held to avoid giving up the set on a third break of serve but Medvedev was now banging down a few winners of his own and went two-one up with his eighth ace.
The 27-year-old again broke to start the fourth set but Hurkacz was still giving as good as he got through some high quality passages of play and got back on terms at 4-4.
The Pole pounced to break Medvedev again to square up the match and took the momentum into the decider when the Russian would surely start to feel the effects of his second round marathon.
Medvedev conserved energy and bided his time until an opportunity presented itself, pouncing when a brilliant backhand return gave him a look at 3-3 and driving home the advantage to snatch the crucial break.
The Russian held with difficulty, particularly after a remarkable Hurkacz save to win one point, but made no mistake when serving for the win, striking a balletic pose and blowing kisses to his team after converting his second match point.
Germany's Alexander Zverev stunned second seed Carlos Alcaraz to reach semi-finals as a sublime display of serving took him to a 6-1 6-3 6-7(2) 6-4 victory.
Zverev made a flying start on Rod Laver Arena, dropping just two points on serve as he raced through the opening set.
The sixth seed was rock solid to keep an unusually-subdued Alcaraz at arm's length and broke serve twice in the second set as errors leaked off the Spaniard's racket.
The pattern continued in the third set as the German maintained an incredibly high level but he faltered for the first time when serving for the match and Alcaraz played an astonishing tiebreak to prolong the contest.
A fired-up Alcaraz seemed to have the momentum in the fourth set but a tiring Zverev dug deep to stay with the Spaniard and broke serve at 4-4 before closing out his first ever win against a top-five ranked opponent in a Grand Slam.
He will face Russian Daniil Medvedev in Friday's semi-final. Agencies