Melbourne, Jan 21 (IANS) World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia fired a warning signal to the field at the Australian Open, overcoming home favourite Nick Kyrgios and a partisan Rod Laver Arena crowd to reach the third round at Melbourne Park with a hard-fought 7-6(1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory.
In a match lasting nearly three hours, Medvedev, who had lost to Kyrgios in their past two meetings, turned the tables with a rock-solid performance in a late Thursday match to set up a third-round clash with Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp.
Van de Zandschulp advanced following the retirement of Frenchman Richard Gasquet with the score 4-6, 6-4, 4-0 in the world No. 57’s favour.
Also, Frenchman Gael Monfils’s flying start to the 2022 season continued on Friday as he won his seventh straight-set match of the season, 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-3, over Cristian Garin of Chile to advance to the fourth round.
Monfils will bid for his 10th major quarterfinal on January 23 against unseeded Serb Miomir Kecmanovic. Kecmanovic’s chances of a deep Australian Open run looked slim when he drew compatriot Djokovic in the opening round. But the 22-year-old is now flying the flag for Serbia into the middle weekend following a 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-2, 7-5 win over Lorenzo Sonego of Italy.
“I came to win this match and I am happy I managed to do it,” Medvedev was quoted as saying by atptour.com after the win over Kyrgios.
“It was a funny match because we both served big. In the second and fourth sets I managed to return a little bit more at the crucial moments. I just want to play my best, hit good shots and hopefully that will be enough to do something big.”
Kyrgios hit with varying pace as he looked to disrupt Medvedev’s rhythm from the baseline. However, the Russian had all the answers, firing 68 winners and slamming flat groundstrokes with great depth to unsettle Kyrgios.
“Against Nick, it’s a tough matchup,” Medvedev said. “I know he can serve big, and that’s already really tough. I felt like I was returning really well today and yet to break him it was really tough. But these kind of matches, first, second, third round of a slam, it’s a big challenge where if you make it, you (say), okay, if I can continue playing like this, I can go far.”
With his victory, Medvedev, who earned a straight-sets win in the first round, extended his recent strong hard-court major record. The 25-year-old went 13-1 at the Australian Open and US Open in 2021, winning his maiden Grand Slam title in New York.
The 13-time tour-level titlist reached the final in Melbourne last season where he lost to Novak Djokovic but will aim to go one step further this year.
Kyrgios, who earned wins over Medvedev in Rome and Washington in 2019, was aiming to record his first top-5 victory since 2019, when he defeated then-World No. 3 Alexander Zverev in the Acapulco final.
“I thought the atmosphere was awesome,” Kyrgios said. “That’s what sport is. You’ve got the most entertaining player playing in his home slam on Rod Laver. You’d expect the crowd to be like that. I can understand it’s a gentleman’s game, but it’s about time that people embraced some sort of different energy in this sport otherwise it will die out. It’s just that simple.
“We all know people can doubt me as much as they want but they know I’m going to turn up and show up for matches like this. That’s why the crowd is the way it is, that’s why the tickets are the way they are, that’s why the views are the way they are. It all speaks for itself,” added Kyrgios.