What do Stefanos Tsitsipas and Fabio Fognini have in common? They are the only players to come back in a Grand Slam from two sets down against Rafael Nadal and win. Federer did also achieve this in Miami when it was a best of 5 set final and Rafa was only 18-years-old. I never thought in my wildest dreams that Stefanos could come back from a position like this against Nadal. I insisted he would need to have a quick start to give himself a chance. I saw a Nadal fan put on Twitter that he must have had to ‘sell his soul’ to win his only title in Melbourne back in 2009. I think the reality is that its the surface that least suits him in this day and age. There was no doubting he had a nice looking draw here and it turned out this was his first big test. After the first two sets, I thought Tsitsipas served out of his nut, there was even a game of aces, with the hold to love in the decider. The forehand was purring and he was using his backhand nicely in the last few sets to keep him in points. The court coverage was also superb as was his mental strength, something that has been questioned before. He said after that “I was just there playing and not thinking. I was mainly focused on each single-serve, each single shot”. It now matches his best performance in Australia. There he will play Daniil Medvedev who really does seem to own Andrey Rublev. It looked for all the world that Rublev would give Medvedev his closest match so far in their series but he just can’t seem to get close to him. 7/5 6/3 6/2 is emphatic and he has the ability to dismantle Rublev’s high intensity and power game, making him look pretty ordinary. Something very few can do these days. Daniil was seen having a rubdown from the physio after the handshake and later confirmed he had been cramping in the final game.
I also didn’t see Ash Barty getting beat today against Karolina Muchova. The Czech has a good game but I thought that she had been struggling physically and the winner of the Brady and Pegula match would surely be more of a test. To wake up and see the top seed had fallen, despite winning the first set 6/1 was a surprise, I’m not going to lie. She put the defeat down to not playing well after the medical timeout that Muchova had taken in the second set. There was no hint that she was annoyed with her opponent, just that she should not have let herself go flat after it, it is a position she says she has been both sides of before. It is clear for me that the home players struggle in Melbourne and I have said it many times before, maybe the pressure had just turned up a notch, which it would at the business end. You feel at any of the others slams she would have at least reached the final from this position. It will be Jennnifer Brady in the semis for Muchova, the American really has had a breakthrough few months in the majors after making the semi’s in NYC. Judging by the stats today it wasn’t sensational on serve from her but she is currently a 4/7 favourite to make her first slam final. With what we have seen of late I don’t think you can argue with that. It is more to do with how she handles the match, something her opponent will also have to do here, unlike when she played a veteran by comparison in New York where she met Osaka.
Andy Del Potro