Australian Open: Daniil Medvedev overcomes Nick Kyrgios and crowd to advance
Daniil Medvedev faced a hostile crowd and a full array of Nick Kyrgios’ outbursts and tricks, and still remained calm long enough to reach the third round at the Australian Open.
The 115th-ranked Kyrgios worked up the crowd, hit ’tweeners and drop shots, mixed up the pace of his groundstrokes and tossed in an under-arm serve in a bid to ruffle the second-ranked Russian.
Medvedev kept his composure, taking a quick trip to the locker room after losing the third set and recovering to win 7-6 (1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 Thursday on a rowdy Rod Laver Arena.
In an on-court TV interview with former champion Jim Courier, Medvedev was asked how he managed to stay so composed.
“That’s the only choice when you get booed between first and second serve,” he said, triggering some boos from the crowd. “It’s not easy. The [service] games I lost, on the break points, it was the case. It’s tough to play.”
The Australian Open was great before Novak Djokovic, and the Grand Slam doesn’t need the unvaccinated star to prove its place in the tennis world.
Kyrgios usually likes to play on John Cain Arena, known locally as the People’s Court because fans with ground passes can get in and the singing and chanting is always less restrained than the two main show courts.
He managed to turn the all-ticketed stadium court into something more akin to a soccer stadium.
In the seventh game of the third set, Kyrgios got two break-point chances when he bunted away a backhand from Medvedev directed at his body and then took off on a circular run behind the baseline to celebrate like he had scored a goal.
When he converted the break, he danced in the change-over and worked up the crowd. Medvedev managed to lower the volume with two service breaks in the fourth set.
It was Medvedev’s first win over Kyrgios following two losses in 2019.
And there were cheers later when Courier suggested a new crowd favorite for the rest of the tournament.
Medvedev was the runner-up last year but avenged that loss by beating Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open final.
He’s the quasi No. 1 now, anyway, because Djokovic was deported on the eve of the tournament for failing to meet Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination regulations.
Another contender in his half of the draw had a more routine run to the third round, with fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas beating Sebastian Baez 7-6 (1), 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 in a match featuring two former top-ranked junior players.
Five-time runner-up Andy Murray lasted only two rounds. Two days after winning his first match at the Australian Open in five years, the former No. 1 lost to 120th-ranked Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Other winners among the men included No. 5 Andrey Rublev, No. 15 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 20 Taylor Fritz, 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic and No. 32 Alex de Minaur. No. 24 Dan Evans moved on when the player he was supposed to face in the second round, Arthur Rinderknech, pulled out with an injured wrist.
Australian wild-card entry Chris O’Connell upset 13th-seeded Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-4.
There were surprises in the women’s draw on Day 4, with No. 3 Garbiñe Muguruza becoming the highest-seeded player to exit only minutes after No. 6 Anett Kontaveit lost.
U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu lost to Danka Kovinic 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
No. 3 seed Garbine Muguruza became the highest-seeded player to exit, while No. 6 seed Anett Kontaveit fell to a 19-year-old at the Australian Open.
Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka served nine double-faults in her first two service games, 12 in the first set and appeared to be on the brink of a second-round defeat before recovering to hold off 100th-ranked Wang Xinyu 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.
She will next face 31st-seeded Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 runner-up at Roland Garros who beat Liudmila Samsonova 6-2, 7-5.
Kontaveit, the runner-up at the WTA Finals, lost to 19-year-old Clara Tauson 6-2, 6-3. Tauson will make her debut in the third round at a major against 2019 Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins.
No. 7 Iga Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, No. 19 Elise Mertens and Sorana Cirstea were among the other women advancing. Zhang Shuai of China moved into the third round when No. 12 Elena Rybakina retired from their match while trailing 6-4, 1-0.
Sam Stosur’s 6-2, 6-2 loss to No. 10 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova ended the 2011 U.S. Open champion’s 20th, and last, singles campaign at the Australian Open.
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