Red-Hot Russians Medvedev, Rublev Advance At Australian Open

Daniil Medvedev (photo: Tennis Australia)

MELBOURNE/STARNBERG, February 13, 2021

Two of the three Russian men in action on Saturday will join their compatriot Aslan Karatsev in the round of 16 of the Australian Open, after the qualifier and World No. 114 stunned No. 8 seed Diego Schwartzman in the third round on Friday.

Daniil Medvedev won a five-set match for the first time in his career as he eventually overcame Filip Krajinovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-0 on Saturday afternoon. The fourth seed from Moscow has now won his last 17 matches, including his successful run to the title at the season-ending ATP Finals last year.

“He played unbelievable, especially in the fourth set,” Medvedev said on court. “Third set I had some chances… He raised his level. I tried to change my position on the return in the fifth set and it seemed to be working well, I guess.

Medvedev struck 52 winners and 15 aces, winning 77 per cent of his first-service points to prevail after three hours and six minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Entering this match, Medvedev was 0-6 in five-setters, including an epic 2019 US Open title match against Rafael Nadal.

“I remember many of these five-set matches. I think three or four of them I would be a break up or something like this. I always say experience is key for me, so in this fifth set I felt like of course it was tight, but as soon as I got the break, I was under control,” Medvedev said. “In contrast with the previous matches where I could get tight, start to rush things, to make some errors. Here I was… really calm to finish the match and I’m really happy that I got my first five-set win.”

Rublev advances, Khachanov falls

Meanwhile on Margaret Court Arena, Andrey Rublev defeated Spanish evergreen Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 and remains unbeaten in 2021. The 39-year-old Spaniard was looking to become the oldest man to reach the round of 16 at a Grand Slam since 44-year-old Ken Rosewall at the 1978 Australian Open but the seventh seed found a way past Lopez’s net-rushing tactics, hit 33 winners, including five on his return, to advance after one hour and 32 minutes.

“I have known Feliciano for a long time. We have practised a lot and we are good friends,” said Rublev, in an on-court interview. “I knew it was going to be a tough match because of the way he is playing. He has an amazing serve, an amazing slice and volley, so I knew he was not going to give me rhythm.”

Rublev will attempt to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the first time on Monday when he meets 24th seed Casper Ruud of Norway. The 22-year-old booked a Round of 16 spot at a Grand Slam for the first time with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory against Radu Albot from Moldova.

On John Cain Arena, No. 19 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia was knocked out by No. 9 seed Matteo Berrettini. The 24-year-old Italian sent down 18 aces and was wide awake in the tie-breaks of each set, winning 7-6(1), 7-6(5), 7-6(5) to secure victory in almost three hours of play.

Tsitsipas in cruise mode

In other action, No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas eased past Mikael Ymer of Sweden 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 in one hour and 34 minutes.

“I have a clue of how he plays and what he does,” said Tsitsipas, who practiced with Ymer during their quarantine in Melbourne. “I’m pretty sure it’s the same for him. This is going to be a difficult test, difficult challenge. He’s in really good shape, plays good tennis. He’s a big fighter. I’m going to have to fight harder than him.”

Nadal to face Fognini

Rafael Nadal overcame a spirited performance from Cameron Norrie to end British interest in the singles.

The Spanish second seed, targeting an outright men’s record 21st Grand Slam title, continued his progress with a 7-5, 6-2, 7-5 win over World No. 69 Norrie in an empty Rod Laver Arena.

Nadal is yet to lose a set at Melbourne Park after his opening three matches and will next face Italian Fabio Fognini, who beat Australian Alex de Minaur 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

South Africa’s Lloyd Harris lost in straight sets to US-American wild card Mackenzie Mcdonald.

McDonald has matched his best Grand Slam result by reaching the round of 16 at the Australian Open when he beat Harris 7-6(7), 6-1, 6-4 in a match which lasted a minute over two hours. The US-American hit 12 aces compared to Harris’ nine and also 39 winners against the Capetonian’s 33.