Australian Open: Daniil Medvedev wins over crowds
As Daniil Medvedev sat courtside trying to re-hydrate during a changeover, an image of nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic flashed up in the stadium behind him.
It was in the third set on Saturday, and it was like the absent No. 1 was looking over the shoulder of the player who is effectively the No. 1 seed at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament.
Medvedev, who lost last year’s Australian Open final to Djokovic but avenged that with a victory over the Serb for the US Open title, reached the fourth round for the fourth straight year with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win over Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp.
The 25-year-old Russian was a conspicuous fan favourite on Margaret Court Arena, too, two days after being unsettled by the boos and jeers of a parochial crowd on Rod Laver Arena when he ended the run of mercurial Aussie Nick Kyrgios.
He was critical of a lack of respect in that match — mostly about the noise between first and second serves — and this time offered some relationship advice to the crowd.
“Every good relationship must have its ups and downs,” he said in his on-court TV interview, explaining that he planned to be back on court quite often in the future. “I hope it’s going to be more good times than bad times, otherwise it doesn’t work.”
Medvedev later clarified he didn’t have a problem with the Australian crowds and had been fully expecting to have them against him when he played Kyrgios — just not while he was in his service motion.
Medvedev avoided a showdown with Djokovic after the world’s top-ranked player had his visa cancelled and was deported on the eve of the tournament for failing to meet Australia’s strict Covid-19 vaccination criteria. He also avoided another match against an Australian in the fourth round when wild card entry Chris O’Connell lost to Maxime Cressy 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-2.
Cressy’s win means there’s two 24-year-old Americans who’ll be in the fourth round of a major for their first time. Cressy is in his fourth grand slam tournament. Taylor Fritz finally made it in his 22nd attempt, with a 6-0, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over No. 15 Roberto Bautista Agut, and said it “means a ton.”
Fritz will next play fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, a runner-up at the French Open and semi-finalist in Australia last year, who fended off Benoit Paire 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (2), 6-4.
Marin Cilic of Croatia said his 7-5, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3 win over Russian fifth seed Andrey Rublev was the result of a gradual improvement in form over the past few months.
“Just generally, as a player, I’m that kind of player where I need to build my form gradually,” the 27th seed said.
Cilic reached the fourth round for the eighth time, where he will face Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Two-time grand slam champion Simona Halep is into Week 2 for the fifth consecutive year after a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Danka Kovinic. She’ll be joined by second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, who advanced with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over Marketa Vondrousova.
India’s Rohan Bopanna and his Croatian partner Darija Jurak Schreiber made a first-round exit from mixed doubles after losing to Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev and Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Kichenok. The Bopanna-Schreiber duo lost 6-1, 4-6, 9-11.