Daniil Medvedev conceded he was out of his mind when he embarked on an extraordinary rant at the chair umpire during his Australian Open win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Russian, who came from two sets down to see off Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last round, roared into a second consecutive Melbourne final as he downed Tsitsipas in a fiery last-four showdown.

Medvedev ultimately triumphed 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 to set up a final with Rafael Nadal but it was a contest in which tempers frayed, mostly on US Open champion's side of the net.

Second seed Medvedev felt Tsitsipas' father was coaching from the sidelines and received a warning for his persistent complaining.

He stopped short of accusing Tsitsipas of cheating but explained his mindset at length in the post-match news conference.

Medvedev said: "Cheating, not at all. First of all I got broken - I got a little bit mad. I thought the referee could do a little bit better with the crowd, just to say, 'Quiet please', or something like this. 

"Didn't see him doing that often and I made a terrible double fault, got a code when I was just showing everybody that I'm cramping.

"I cannot toss the ball with my left hand because everybody's screaming, so my serve was terrible.

"To be honest, before every return his father was talking Greek. I don't know, maybe he's saying, 'Come on, come on', there is no problem.

"But then the referee, I asked him if he can talk. He said he can talk but he can't coach. Then I said, 'Do you speak Greek?' 

"If not, the guy is talking, talking, talking. I don't know what he says, but if it's a coach - I don't consider coaching as cheating but it should be a code violation. Then second one would be a bit tricky."

Medvedev branded the umpire "a small cat" in his astonishing on-court outburst.

He added: "You guys are laughing, so I think we can say it was funny, but I was definitely out of my mind. I was not controlling myself anymore about anything.

"That's actually why I'm really happy to win. Many matches like this I would go on to do mistakes - you lose your concentration with things in the heat of the moment. I'm so happy that I managed to catch it really fast."

Medvedev often feels regret after his outbursts, but concedes they sometimes give him the fuel to win.

"I regret it all the time, because I don't think it's nice." he said. "I know that every referee is trying to do their best.

"In tennis we don't fight with the fists but tennis is a fight. It's a one-on-one against another player. 

"So I'm actually really respectful to players who never, almost never show their emotions because it's tough, I can get really emotional. 

"I have been working on it. So many matches I handle it. If we look back at myself five years ago when I started playing, just started playing, there was less attention on me, but I was just insanely crazy.

"I'm working on it. Helps me to win matches, I know. So I do regret it 100 per cent, but again, in the heat of the moment, I just lost it."

Tsitsipas suggested the Russian was lacking in maturity, saying about the rant: "Well, it's for sure funny!

"It's funny. I don't pay attention to the stuff. I know players like to do this stuff to throw you off mentally. Could be maybe a tactic? It is all right, he is not the most mature person anyways."

Of the allegation he received coaching, Tsitsipas replied: "I wasn't - you saw me the other day, losing the score twice in two of my matches. I cannot hear anything when I'm playing. 

"It's impossible. Having the crowd being so loud in every single point, you have to have super hearing to be able to hear what your coach says.

"I'm used to it. They've been targeting me already a long time. The umpires are always paying attention to my box, never paying attention to the opponent's box. 

"Last thing I want is someone giving me tips and giving me advice on what I should do. I'm not the kind of person that would try and listen when out there competing, playing. In practice, maybe."

But Medvedev was reluctant to get into a war of words with Tsitsipas.

He said: "No, I don't want to get too much into this, because again, it was nothing against Stefanos, nothing during this match and I feel like I didn't talk about him. 

"I just talked about the rule, because again, I don't know what his father is saying. Maybe he's just saying, 'Let's go next point'. It's completely allowed. 

"I don't know Greek. Same about the umpire. He should just, I don't know, talk to Stefanos first maybe, [tell him to] say something to your father. 

"If my coach would be talking in French to me before every point, even I would say, 'Stop it. It's not allowed'. So it was only about this."

Tsitsipas revealed he had regularly discussed the topic with his father and ultimately believes coaching should be legalised.

He added: "My father, look, he's a person that when he gets into something when there is a lot of action, his medicine is to talk, and you can't stop it. It's something that he does from nature.

"I've tried, spent countless hours trying to figure it out with him, but it's part of him. 

"Last year I went out publicly on one of my social media platforms and said that I think coaching should be allowed, simply because coaches do it anyways. 

"Most of them get away with it, and they do it pretty smartly, I can tell you."

Daniil Medvedev described the three-man battle for grand slam history as "their thing, not mine" as he set his sights on denying Rafael Nadal a 21st major in Sunday's Australian Open final.

Russian Medvedev is the 6ft 6in obstacle blocking the route to history once again, just as he was at the US Open last September when he prevented Novak Djokovic becoming the first man to 21 and crushed the Serbian's hope of a first calendar sweep of the men's singles slams since Rod Laver's 1969 feat.

At the age of 25, Medvedev is 10 years Nadal's junior, and he has an awful long way to go before he is revered to the same degree as the 'Big Three' of Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer.

But Medvedev is asserting himself as the leader of the pack that will drive the men's game forward over the next decade, and he will be fancied by many to topple Nadal this weekend in Melbourne.

This will be his fourth slam final, after losing a marathon five-set tussle against Nadal at the 2019 US Open, being beaten ruthlessly by Djokovic in the Australian Open last year, and then storming to glory in New York.

Asked about the fact he has always faced elite opposition in his finals, Medvedev said: "They are really strong, huh? It's really tough to get into the final, and I always have them there waiting for me.

"But it's fun. When I was like eight, 10 years old I was playing against the wall and I was imagining that it's Rafa on the other side, or Roger. Novak was still not yet there, I think.

"Now I have the chance to play him [in a major final] for a second time. The first one was a close one, an epic one. I need to show my best, because that's what I took from the three finals that I had before, that you have to do better than 100 per cent in order to win. That's what I managed to do in the US Open. That's what I'm going to try to do on Sunday."

Medvedev, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in four sets in their semi-final on Friday, says Nadal's pursuit of the all-time men's grand slam record would not impact upon his own game.

"I'll be honest, on me it doesn't [have an effect]," Medvedev said. "It's not me going for the 21st, not me trying to break these records.

"I'm going for my second one. I'm still far from all these things. I'm just trying to focus on myself, doing my job.

"I'm not lying, I know what's happening, I know what Rafa is going for, I knew what Novak was going for. But it's kind of their thing, not mine. I'm just there to try to win the final."

It is clear Medvedev, a fiery character, has enormous respect for Nadal's ability to hold back from letting his own feisty emotions boil over.

"We know what Rafa's mentality in life is like. I don't know if I should call it this way, but he's like a perfect guy," Medvedev told a news conference.

World number two Medvedev will be attempting to become the first man in the Open Era to follow his maiden grand slam singles title with another at the next major. He said it would be a "great battle" against Nadal, and Medvedev, who predicted Djokovic would be keeping a close eye on the match, would be happy to disrupt the fairy tale narrative.

The ever-popular Nadal is coming back from a foot injury and has surpassed most expectations by sweeping through the draw, chasing his second Australian Open title but first since 2009, when he beat Federer.

"They are the three biggest players in the world: Novak, Rafa, Roger," Medvedev said. "All have done amazing, amazing records.

"Some of them have more records in total. They have all the same slams. Somebody has more Davis Cup titles, somebody has more Roland Garros, Australian Open, whatever.

"Rafa, especially what he's done at Roland Garros [winning 13 French Open titles], I really doubt somebody could ever beat this. But on the other ones, he's really strong also. I think it's going to be a debate for 20 years to come, no matter even who has the most slams, who of them was better. I want to say, they're all amazing."

Daniil Medvedev is convinced Novak Djokovic will be glued to Sunday's Australian Open final, as the men's grand slam record goes on the line once more.

It was Medvedev who denied Djokovic a 21st singles major in the US Open final in September, inflicting a straight-sets defeat on the Serbian who was chasing a sweep of the 2021 grand slams.

Now Medvedev stands in the way of another of the 'Big Three', with Rafael Nadal also chasing a 21st slam and the outright lead on the all-time list.

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer each have 20 grand slam singles titles, and it remains to be seen whether any of that trio triumph again on the big stage, with Medvedev confirming himself as a leader of the upcoming generation.

The deportation of Djokovic from Australia before this tournament caused a major stir, denying the nine-time champion at Melbourne Park a run at history.

And all Djokovic can do is sit and watch from a distance, perhaps hoping for a Medvedev victory.

"I guess last time Rafa was watching near the TV, I don't know who he was cheering for," Medvedev said, harking back to the US Open. "But I think Novak will be watching this one in two days also."

The mention of Djokovic in Medvedev's on-court interview led to rumblings in the crowd, with many Australians having been glad to see him removed from the country when his visa was revoked.

When Djokovic was again mentioned in a follow-up interview with Eurosport, Medvedev said: "I'm definitely not going to think about this before or during the match. After the match, depending on the result, I'm going to think about him a little bit and about Roger probably also."

Medvedev's first taste of a grand slam final was against Nadal at the 2019 US Open, when the Russian lost a five-set thriller.

"We've played a few matches since then, and I'm ready," Medvedev said. "I know Rafa is a very strong player and I will need to show my best to try to win this match."

Medvedev, runner-up to Djokovic in Melbourne last year, aimed an outburst of anger towards umpire Jaume Campistol during the second set of his four-set victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday.

He was furious at Tsitsipas seemingly being coached by the Greek star's father from the players' box, but Medvedev quickly realised his own behaviour was unhelpful.

"I don't think emotions, bad emotions, help me too much and when I made it, many times I lose the match because of this," he said. "As soon as I did it, I was like, 'That was a big mistake'.

"But I'm happy I managed to re-concentrate for the beginning of the third set."

Having lost the second set, Medvedev snatched a crucial break at the end of the third, before cruising through the fourth to seal a 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 victory.

Medvedev said he had felt "so dead" after beating Felix Auger-Aliassime in a near five-hour marathon in the quarter-finals, but his energy has been replenished.

"I'm happy today was not five hours, so I could recover faster for the next one," he said.

"I'm gonna play against one of the greatest, and what's funny is again I'm going to play someone going for the 21st slam."

Before the tussle with Nadal, Melbourne will be gripped by Ash Barty's own pursuit of history, bidding to become the first Australian since Chris O'Neil at the 1978 tournament to land the women's singles title.

Barty faces Danielle Collins on Saturday, and Medvedev, as is his wont, managed to rile some of Friday's crowd by being non-committal on whether he would watch Barty, whose title match begins at 19:30 local time (08:30 GMT).

"I'm usually going to dinner at 8.15pm," Medvedev said.

Urged by on-court interviewer Jim Courier to come up with a different answer, Medvedev added: "I'm going to watch it on my phone guys, I'm going to watch it."

Daniil Medvedev roared into a second consecutive Australian Open final as he downed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a fiery last-four showdown.

The Russian, who came from two sets down to see off Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last round, triumphed 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 to set up a final with Rafael Nadal.

The US Open champion improved his head-to-head record with Tsitsipas to 7-2 in a contest where tempers frayed, mostly on Medvedev's side of the net.

He accused Tsitsipas' father of coaching from the sidelines and received a warning for his persistent complaining, but the second seed also managed to channel his aggression into a stellar performance.

The first set went the distance after Tsitsipas, who employed a bold approach in taking the match to Medvedev, fended off three break points when serving at 4-4.

Medvedev was 4-2 down in the tie-break but dug deep to claim it, underlining his mental toughness when backed into a corner.

Tsitsipas maintained his positive attitude and broke in the opening game of the second set, only to surrender that advantage in a sloppy sixth game as his accuracy abandoned him.

It was Medvedev who lost his way at 4-4, though, two double faults and a terribly skewed forehand seeing him lose serve, with Tsitsipas capitalising to seal the set.

Medvedev lost his cool with the umpire, bemoaning supposed coaching from Tsitsipas' father, but it only seemed to fuel him.

With Tsitsipas serving to stay in the set, Medvedev showed his range with a drop-shot winner and double-handed forehand bullet en route to a timely break to reclaim the lead.

And he was at his imperious best in the fourth, producing an array of stunning passing shots as Tsitsipas simply ran out of answers.

Medvedev now has the chance to go one better than last year, when he lost in the final to Novak Djokovic.

DATA SLAM: Medvedev clinical behind first serve

Medvedev had to put a gruelling five-set quarter-final clash behind him on Rod Laver Arena and it did appear to take him some time to find his groove.

But he applied huge pressure with his consistency on his first serve, winning 91 per cent of those points.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Medvedev – 39/28
Tsitsipas – 35/32

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Medvedev – 13/4
Tsitsipas – 5/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Medvedev – 4/12
Tsitsipas – 2/4

Just months ago, there were doubts over Rafael Nadal's future. Now, he is a win away from a record-breaking major triumph.

Nadal overcame Matteo Berrettini 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 in the Australian Open semi-finals on Friday, reaching his 29th grand slam decider.

The Spaniard is a win away from a 21st grand slam title, which would break his tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for the most won by a man.

Such events looked incredibly unlikely just months ago.

Nadal ended his 2021 season in August after playing just seven events, a persistent foot injury not only derailing his season but threatening his career.

"Everybody around me, me included, of course, but everybody around me had a lot of doubts. Not about the Australian Open, no, but about coming back on the Tour because the foot was bothering me a lot of days," Nadal said after his third-round win over Karen Khachanov.

"Of course, still today there are doubts because the foot, as I said the other day, is an injury we cannot fix … so we need to find a way that the pain is under control to play, to keep playing. That's the goal.

"Honestly, I was not able to practice very often. But when I was practising, the feeling on the ball was quite good. There have been a lot of months without competing. The movements, all this stuff, you need to recover day by day. There is no way to recover those things without competing. That's what I need, keep playing. Already three and three, so six matches on my back, and positive ones. Every day a little bit better, so I'm happy for that."

 

After a four-month absence, Nadal made his return at an exhibition in Abu Dhabi in December. Days later, he tested positive for COVID-19.

Still, he made the trip to Australia, winning his 89th ATP Tour title at the Melbourne Summer Set, his first hard-court crown since February 2020.

That success was incredible, given Nadal played just 14 tournaments in total in 2020 and 2021.

"Of course, when you are getting a little bit older, all the comebacks are tougher," Nadal said after beating Marcos Giron in the opening round. "This has been especially, well, difficult because it's not only a comeback from an injury, it's a comeback trying to be back on the Tour after almost two years playing not many events with the virus.

"If you remember in 2020 I only played here and Acapulco, then I just played in Rome, Roland Garros, Paris and London. Six events.

"In 2021 I played just here and then [it] was clay, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros. Washington, yeah. Another six events – 12 events in two years are not many. If we add that I was not able to practice very often, too, it's a really tough one, no?

"But here I am. I am super happy about all the work that we have done to try to be back. We are here enjoying the tennis, and that's it. We're going to keep trying hard."

Nadal is back. Not just back playing, but back fighting his way into grand slam finals, and back in position to make more history.

Rafael Nadal insisted his run to the Australian Open final was "completely unexpected" after moving to within a win of a record-breaking grand slam title.

Nadal, 35, overcame Matteo Berrettini 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 in their semi-final under the Rod Laver Arena roof on Friday.

After doubts over his career due to a persistent foot injury, Nadal is into a 29th grand slam final and a win away from a 21st major crown, which would break a tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for the most won by a man.

The Spaniard said he had no expectations to reach the decider in Melbourne, where Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas await.

"For me it's something completely unexpected, so I am super happy. Of course everybody knows me, and I'm always going to try my best. Of course my goal now is to win," Nadal told a news conference.

"As I said, for me, it's a present, just be here and play tennis. I am taking now things a little bit in a different way, of course always with competitive spirit that I have, because I can't go against that. It's my personal DNA.

"But in some way, I don't know, just be what I am and be able to have the chance to compete at this level, it's a positive energy for me to keep going, because at the end of the day, and being very honest, for me it's much more important to have the chance to play tennis than win the 21. Because that makes me more happy in terms of general life to be able to do the thing that I like to do more than achieving another grand slam.

"At the end of the day, life, it's about happiness and what makes me happy. It's about just having the chance to do what I like to do."

 

Nadal ended his 2021 season in August and, after a four-month absence, returned for an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi last month.

He claimed his 89th ATP Tour title in Melbourne earlier this month before progressing to the Australian Open final.

"I feel alive in terms of my tennis life, you know, in terms of my tennis career," Nadal said.

"In my personal life, I honestly have a good life. I feel lucky that my family is healthy, and during these challenging times that's everything. More important than tennis, for sure. 100 per cent.

"But, yeah, I explained before, for a long time I wasn't able to practice. Sometimes I went on court and I was able to practice 20 minutes, sometimes 45, sometimes zero, sometimes two hours, but have been very, very rough in terms of imagining myself playing at the best-of-five at this moment.

"So, yeah, I don't know. Super happy. It's true that I worked hard for a long time every single day in terms of when I was not able to play tennis I was working hard in the gym.

"I think I'm never going to say I deserve, because a lot of people deserve. But I worked the proper way, and I hold the positive spirit and attitude to have the chance to give myself a chance to be back."

Ash Barty's form at the Australian Open gives her deserved favourite status for the final, but in Danielle Collins one of the most dangerous players on the WTA Tour stands between her and history.

Barty has ruthlessly cruised into Saturday's final – the first Australian to reach the women's singles decider in 42 years – in brilliant form.

The two-time grand slam champion has lost just 21 games on her way to the showpiece, dropping serve just once.

Barty, the world number one, has appeared a class above at the year's first grand slam, where she is bidding to become the first Australian singles champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978. But she faces a huge test in the final against American 27th seed Collins, who is into her first major decider.

After three straight losses to Barty, two of which were on clay, Collins beat the Australian in straight sets in Adelaide last year in a sign of what she is capable of. Collins, who came from a break down in both sets in that win, possesses the power to threaten Barty on Rod Laver Arena.

 

Barty's variety – her serve, backhand slice and ability to construct points – has been much talked about in Melbourne this year.

Her 35 aces for the tournament are the second most, and exactly half of her first serves have been unreturned at the event, the highest percentage of any player in the women's draw. While Barty will try to unsettle Collins with her variety, the American is likely to respond with power. Collins has crushed 32 return winners at the event, a tally that is eight more than the next best.

Collins has also delivered 164 winners to 149 unforced errors, showcasing her aggressiveness, while Barty is at 106 and 96 respectively.

If Barty can extend the points, she will fancy her chances of a first Australian Open title. Collins has spent 10 hours, 37 minutes on court compared to Barty's 6:06, but shorter points would also suit the 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist.

Of points between zero and eight shots this tournament, Collins has won 458 of 809 (56.6 per cent), while Barty is 331-202 (62.1). But of rallies of nine-plus shots, Collins is 23-31 compared to Barty's 30-19 at the 2022 event.

Barty will be well aware of what Collins is capable of, but should have confidence her best is more than good enough to end Australia's long wait.

Rafael Nadal is a win away from a record-breaking 21st grand slam title after getting past Matteo Berrettini to reach the Australian Open final on Friday.

Nadal overcame the Italian seventh seed 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 after two hours, 55 minutes under the Rod Laver Arena roof in their semi-final on a stormy day in Melbourne.

The Spanish star will face either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas in the decider, in which he can break the record for most grand slam titles won by a man.

Nadal had won his only previous meeting with Berrettini and he targeted the Italian's backhand from the outset, and it worked wonders.

Berrettini, however, fought hard and forced a fourth set against Nadal, who reached his sixth Australian Open final and 29th major decider, a tally only bettered by Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic (31 each).

 

Nadal targeted the Berrettini backhand from the start, and it helped yield a break in the second game.

Back-to-back unforced errors from that wing, the second pulled wide, from Berrettini handed Nadal a 2-0 lead.

That break proved to be enough for Nadal in a 43-minute opening set, closed out despite Berrettini briefly threatening in the ninth game.

Perhaps still recovering from the disappointment of the first set, Berrettini was broken to start the second, three unforced errors – two from a forehand side that had appeared capable of doing damage to Nadal – giving the Spaniard a break point he converted with a forehand winner.

Berrettini had no answers to Nadal's consistency and relentlessness and even his forehand was beginning to let him down as he fell 3-0 behind in the second set, a deficit he was never going to recover from.

Nadal was unable to pull away early in the third set and instead it was Berrettini, suddenly sparked to life and looking far more energetic, who struck to break for 5-3.

A running forehand pass down the line helped set up the break chance and Berrettini delivered a forehand winner before serving it out to love.

Berrettini went on a run of winning 23 consecutive points on serve, but when that was ended in the eighth game of the fourth set, he found trouble.

He saved a break point after a 23-shot rally but then netted consecutive forehands to fall 5-3 behind, Nadal closing out his victory to reach the final.

 

DATA SLAM: Nadal showing no signs of slowing down

Even at 35, Nadal has reached yet another grand slam final.

He became the fifth man aged 35 or older to reach a grand slam final in the Open Era, after Federer, Ken Rosewall, Mal Anderson and Andre Agassi.

The win over Berrettini also saw Nadal beat a top-10 player at the Australian Open for the first time since 2017.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 28/19
Berrettini – 38/39

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 5/2
Berrettini – 14/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 4/8
Berrettini – 1/2

Australia expects as Ash Barty faces Danielle Collins in Saturday's grand slam final at Melbourne Park.

The world number one, from Ipswich, Queensland, will be bidding for her third grand slam singles title but a first at the Australian Open.

The wait for a home champion has been a long one, but it could soon be over.

Chris O'Neil was the last Australian winner of the women's singles, way back in 1978, while the last men's singles champion was Mark Edmondson in 1976.

Australia has hardly been starved of tennis talent over the past 40 years, but for one reason or another, the home slam has been beyond their reach.

Here, Stats Perform remembers the household names who have seen their hopes dashed in Melbourne.

Jelena Dokic

Dokic never came close in Melbourne, truth be told. Which is not to say she lacked the ability, having reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2000 and climbed as high as number four in the WTA rankings two years later. Dokic's career was blighted by a traumatic relationship with her overbearing and violent coach and father, Damir, whom she alleged physically abused her on many occasions. Her best performance at Melbourne Park came against all expectations, at the outset of a tour comeback in 2009 when she reached the quarter-finals, losing out there to Dinara Safina. Dokic, who is now 38 and retired from the tour, has been conducting on-court interviews during this year's Australian Open.

Lleyton Hewitt

'Rusty' won Wimbledon and US Open titles at the peak of his powers, and reached number one in the world at the age of 20. Before Roger Federer came along with different ideas, it seemed Hewitt might rule the roost in the men's game for years to come. He reached one Australian Open final, and in 2005 that was a glorious chance to secure a home major as he faced Russian Marat Safin in the final. Hewitt won the first set, but then Safin took command, winning in four. Incredibly, it would be the last grand slam men's singles final not to feature Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic until the 2014 US Open (Nishikori v Cilic).

Pat Cash

Cash's career peak came at Wimbledon in 1987, when he beat Ivan Lendl to capture the title before famously climbing up to the players' box. At the start of that year he almost won the Australian Open, too, when that tournament was staged on grass at Kooyong, in Melbourne's suburbs. He lost a five-set thriller to Stefan Edberg, another grass-court master, and when the tournament moved to Melbourne Park a year later, shifting to hardcourts, Cash was a finalist once more. Again, he suffered heartbreak in a deciding set, Mats Wilander denying Cash home glory, and he would never play a grand slam final again.

Samantha Stosur

Stosur, who called time on her singles career after a second-round defeat in Melbourne this year, was Australia's most recent women's singles grand slam champion until Barty came along. She triumphed at the 2011 US Open, sensationally beating Serena Williams in the Flushing Meadows final, and got to as high as number four in the world. She also reached the 2010 French Open final, but Stosur was never a factor in the business end of her home major, at least in singles. The fourth round was the furthest she ever went, but it was a different story in doubles, as she won an Australian Open mixed title in 2005, alongside fellow Australian Scott Draper. In the twilight of her career, in 2019, she teamed up with Zhang Shuai to win the women's doubles, a poignant success after so much singles frustration.

Mark Philippoussis

Philippoussis, aka 'Scud', was a US Open runner-up in 1998 and also reached the 2003 Wimbledon final, where he was the sacrificial lamb as Federer scooped the first grand slam title of his career. In Australia, though, just like Stosur, his slam peak was round four, a disappointment considering his talent and weaponry. In 1996, Philippoussis stunned the then world number one Pete Sampras in the third round in Melbourne, only to lose to lowly ranked compatriot and doubles expert Mark Woodforde in his next match. Arguably the most famous story concerning Philippoussis and the Australian Open is the widely reported rumour he was spotted kissing Anna Kournikova in an underground car park at the 2000 tournament. Both denied it. "Just good friends," was Kournikova's verdict.

Pat Rafter

Rafter won back-to-back US Opens in 1997 and 1998, as well as reaching consecutive Wimbledon finals in 2000 and 2001. A semi-final run in Melbourne in 2001, which proved to be the serve-volley master's last year on tour, was Rafter's best performance at his home slam, eventual champion Andre Agassi coming from two sets to one down to deny him a place in the title match.

Nick Kyrgios

All the talent in the world, but Kyrgios appears to be happy enough ploughing a unique furrow though his tennis career. Top five in the shot-making stakes, Kyrgios turns 27 in April and his ability has taken him to just two slam quarter-finals to date, including at the 2015 Australian Open. He was a junior champion at Melbourne Park in 2013, and has also reached the fourth round twice in the seniors. It is up to Kyrgios whether he wishes to make optimum use of his remarkable racket skills or carry on entertaining with virtuoso, but short-lived, singles runs. You wonder whether a Barty triumph could ignite this firecracker of a player.

Ash Barty will plot a path to victory over Danielle Collins in the Australian Open final with the coach she describes as "a magician" and "a massive part of my life".

Australian home hero Barty has been a hot favourite for the title since before the first ball was struck in Melbourne, and to date she has justified all the hype and expectation.

Barty has dropped only 21 games across six matches to reach the final. Since 2000, only Serena Williams (16 games at the 2013 US Open and 19 at the 2012 US Open) and Venus Williams (20 games at Wimbledon in 2009) have lost fewer games to reach a grand slam final.

The last player to lose fewer games en route to the final in Australia was Monica Seles in 1993 (20 games), and she went on to beat Steffi Graf in a title match that went to three sets.

This is the level Barty is at now, as an established world number one and reigning Wimbledon champion, and a Collins victory on Saturday would be a major upset.

Yet Barty sees the 28-year-old American as a major threat, and the evidence of Collins' destructive performance against seventh seed Iga Swiatek in Thursday's second semi-final attests to that.

Collins won 6-4 6-1 and hit 27 winners and only 13 unforced errors, securing a place in her first slam final.

 

"She's an exceptional ball striker," said Barty. "She's someone who stands on the baseline and can hit all spots of the court from any position. I think the challenge is going to be trying to get her off balance.

"We'll do our homework and try to figure out a plan, and come Saturday try and execute. Danielle's done incredibly well here in Australia before. The way she's able to control the baseline and really take the game on, she's one of the most fierce competitors out here.

"She loves to get in your face and loves to take it on. It's going to be a challenge for me to try to neutralise as best as I can, but it's certainly nice to see her out here playing her best stuff."

Working out a strategy for the match, alongside Barty, will be veteran coach Craig Tyzzer. Barty trusts him implicitly to get the plan right.

"'Tyzze' is a magician; he's able to look at a lot of different matches, look at key matches, some recent and some old, and work our plan out in looking at different conditions and things like that," Barty said in a news conference after her thumping 6-1 6-3 semi-final win against Madison Keys.

"He's the man that does all the work. I just get to go out there and have fun with it."

Barty is understating her role there, but she has turned singles into a team game, relying on the likes of Tyzzer and mindset coach Ben Crowe to steer her on the right path.

She is attempting to become the first Australian player to win this title since Chris O'Neil in 1978, so the pressure is on, and it helps that those around her help to relieve the stress.

"Everyone is equally important. We're all equal, we all play our roles," Barty said. "The most amazing thing is we all communicate really well together and get along with each other and know when it's time to back off, relax, and then when it's time to switch on and really have a crack.

"'Tyzze' has been a massive part of my life since 2016. Before that, we'd done some work together, but the work he's done in setting up an amazing group of people around us has propelled my career for both of us. The experiences we've been able to share has been remarkable.

"It starts with my family, my sisters, obviously my professional team who contribute as much time and energy into my career and help me try and live out my dreams. I cannot thank them enough for the time and effort they put in to someone else.

"Being able to enjoy it all together and lighten up when we're not focused on the match is a really important part of that."

Barty's first serve has been a huge weapon, while Collins' return of the second serve has been a significant factor behind her run. So if Barty can land enough first serves on Saturday, that could prove telling. It has helped her to save 13 of 14 break points so far in this tournament.

Giving Collins a regular look at her second serve could be costly. Collins has won more points on the return of second serve (90) than any other woman in the tournament.

Barty ranks ninth on that list but is the leader on winning points when landing a first serve, achieving an 83 per cent success rate.

Danielle Collins is relishing a "spectacular" Australian Open showdown with home favourite Ash Barty after outclassing Iga Swiatek to reach her maiden grand slam final.

Collins was imperious in her second major semi-final on Rod Laver Arena, taking just an hour and 18 minutes to beat Swiatek 6-4 6-1.

The 28-year-old American's emphatic victory was her second over a top-10 opponent in a grand slam.

Collins was relentless as a struggling Swiatek had no answer to her aggressive approach, and the 27th seed will attempt to tear up the script by denying Barty a first Australian Open title on Saturday.

It was only last April that the Florida native underwent emergency surgery for endometriosis, an extremely painful condition in which tissue similar to that which lines the uterus grows outside of it.

Collins was also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2018, but she has broken new ground for her career at Melbourne Park, dropping only two sets en route to the final.

She said in an on-court interview following the win over Swiatek: "It feels amazing. It's been such a journey, and it doesn't happen overnight. So many years of hard work and hours at an early age on court.

"Yesterday I was talking about all the early mornings my dad would get up with me and practise before school. It's just incredible to be on this stage and especially with the health challenges. I'm just so grateful, and I couldn't be happier."

Collins beat world number one Barty to reach the Adelaide International quarter-finals last year, having lost their previous three meetings, and the world number 30 will embrace such a big occasion this weekend.

She said: "We've had some incredible battles over the years. It's going to be really spectacular, with the energy the fans bring, whether they are for me or for my opponent.

"I think we're just so grateful after everything with COVID to have incredible energy and people here supporting us."

Ash Barty is ready for "one last crack" on Saturday when she will bid to become a first home winner of the Australian Open women's singles in over 40 years.

The 25-year-old Queenslander powered through to the third grand slam final of her career with a clinical 6-1 6-3 win over Madison Keys on Thursday.

She is 2-0 for her past two finals in the majors, taking titles at the 2019 French Open and last year at Wimbledon, and has looked an unstoppable force in Melbourne.

That theory will be put to the test by Danielle Collins, the 28-year-old big-hitting American who dismantled Iga Swiatek's game in the second semi-final to reach a first slam final.

Barty is dialled in and up for the challenge, looking to land the title that was last won by an Australian when Chris O'Neil triumphed at the 1978 tournament.

"It's fun, it's brilliant to be playing in the business end of your home slam," Barty said in a news conference.

"Saturday's going to be a new experience for me. So I'll go out there and embrace it, smile, try and do the best that I can, and whatever happens, happens.

"It's been an incredible January and incredible summer for us, and I'm really looking forward to having one last crack here, to really go out and enjoy it."

Wendy Turnbull was the last Australian finalist in the women's singles, way back in 1980, and the scale of the achievement in ending the long wait is not lost on Barty, who has already won doubles and singles titles this month at the Adelaide International.

"To be in the finals weekend of your home grand slam is what a lot of Aussie players dream of," she added.

This is modesty, but Barty is now a long-standing world number one, and therefore anything but lifting the trophy would be a disappointment at this stage, with 27th seed Collins looking to spring what would be a major upset.

Barty said she was able to "play the match on our terms" against Keys, pointing to her on-court effort being a collaboration with her support team.

 

Keys was outplayed and her reflection on the experience of tackling Barty was blunt.

"It's tough, it sucks. She's just playing incredibly well," Keys said. "You have a game plan in your head, but she's just executing everything so well.

"She's serving incredibly well, so you don't get any free points on that; her slice is coming in so much lower and deeper than it was in the past, so it's hard to do anything on that; and then you try to play to her forehand and she can open you up there.

"She's so locked in and focused. I've played her a handful of times and this is easily the best I think she's ever been playing."

Barty, who dabbled with cricket before focusing on tennis, appears to have a work-life balance that would be the envy of many, finding it no problem to unwind once she leaves the gates of Melbourne Park. Enjoying the early Australian dominance in the women's Ashes has only brightened her mood.

"It's pretty easy for me. When I'm not here, I don't think about the tennis too much," she said. "I've got the women's Ashes to watch, which is brilliant, read a book, few coffees, and we're set."

The young Barty who first visited the Australian Open before hitting her teenage years, for a training camp, would stand in awe of the player she has become.

"I'd have been only 11 or 12 years old," she recalled. "To see how professional it was and to see everybody going about their business was really eye-opening.

"My first taste of it was in the juniors and I loved it. Being able to get a taste of that kind of lit the flame. You wonder what you can achieve."

Danielle Collins will face home favourite Ash Barty in her first grand slam final at the Australian Open after dispatching Iga Swiatek in straight sets.

Playing in only her second major semi-final at the age of 28, an assured Collins rose to the occasion to win 6-4 6-1 in dominant fashion on Rod Laver Arena.

The 27th seed from the United States was beaten by Petra Kvitova in the last four of the first grand slam of the year at Melbourne Park three years ago, but she was not to be denied on this occasion.

Swiatek was unable to become the first Polish woman to reach the final of this tournament, struggling with her serve from the start as her bid to win a second grand slam title came to a halt and Collins booked a showdown with world number one Barty on Saturday.

Collins capitalised on a shaky start from the 2020 French Open champion, breaking when the seventh seed sprayed a forehand long after double-faulting in a poor first service game.

An aggressive Collins was a double-break up at 3-0 after her out-of-sorts opponent drilled a backhand wide, but Swiatek sprung into life, winning back-to-back games to reduce the deficit to 4-2.

Swiatek trailed 5-2 after being broken for a third time as she struggled with her second serve and although Collins failed to serve out the set at the first attempt, she made no mistake second time around after firing down two aces.

The Florida native was in the zone, staying on her feet during changeovers, and she struck another blow by breaking in the first game of the second set with a cross-court backhand winner.

Swiatek's frustration mounted as her service woes continued, Collins near flawless with her backhand a potent weapon as she broke again to lead 3-0.

The ice-cool world number 30 showed not a hint of nerves, finishing off the job with another break after earning two match points with a glorious forehand winner and forcing a backhand error from Swiatek to move into the final.

 

DATA SLAM: Imperious Collins a class apart as Swiatek is let down by her serve

While Collins was at her very best in a brilliant performance, Swiatek looked like she did not know what had hit her.

Swiatek won only three of the 21 points behind her tentative second serve after landing only 60 per cent of her first serves in, and the 20-year-old fell into the trap of feeding Collins' dangerous backhand far too often.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Collins – 27/13
Swiatek – 12/13

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Collins – 7/4
Swiatek – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON

Collins – 6/10
Swiatek – 2/3

Nick Kyrgios has often walked a tightrope when it comes to etiquette on a tennis court, but the surprise Australian Open doubles finalist insists: "I'm not creating a circus."

Playing with Thanasi Kokkinakis, Kyrgios has led an Australian charge to the men's doubles final, with compatriots Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell awaiting them in the title match.

It will be an all-Australian final in the men's doubles for the first time since 1980, guaranteeing home champions.

Showman Kyrgios mounted a defence of his brand of tennis after he and Kokkinakis downed Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.

New Zealander Michael Venus had expressed annoyance at the behaviour of Kyrgios this week, after he and Tim Putz lost out in the quarter-finals to the home pair.

Venus said that match, which Kyrgios and Kokkinakis won in a deciding set, "felt like a circus", while taking direct aim at the conduct of Kyrgios by saying his maturity level was that of a 10-year-old.

Kyrgios, 26, says he can mix top-level tennis with entertainment, rebutting the "circus" accusation.

"I think I played pretty good tennis in the past. I've beaten pretty much every player that's picked up a racket," he told a news conference.

"I've obviously had to play a certain level of tennis. It's not like I'm going out there putting on a clown suit and creating a circus.

"I have also played, won titles, won big titles, I have played the traditional way. I think now I'm able to channel a different fan base. I think it's only positive in my opinion."

At the 2015 US Open, American tennis great John McEnroe questioned the eccentric shot selection of Kyrgios in a first-round loss to Andy Murray, telling ESPN: "You don’t want to be remembered as a clown. You want to be remembered as a player. He thinks he's a vaudeville entertainer."

Kokkinakis firmly backed his 'Special Ks' doubles partner on Thursday, saying critics should look at the attention Kyrgios brings to the sport from beyond its usual viewership.

"I think people have just got to be open," Kokkinakis said. "You're always trying to develop a sport and grow a sport.

"Of course, you've got to keep it within the boundaries. If people are so narrow-minded they can't see this is bringing a lot of fans and a lot of eyes, I think that is their problem honestly."

Kyrgios then addressed Kokkinakis, saying: "I think the quality of tennis was pretty good today, don't you think?"

Kokkinakis agreed. "That is what it is about. It's about having a good product on court that people actually come and enjoy. You can't please everyone," he said.

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