Ice-cool Medvedev overcomes Kyrgios antics to progress at Australian Open
Daniil Medvedev overcome a tricky test against Nick Kyrgios in Melbourne, beating the home favorite in four sets to progress to the third round of the Australian Open.
The top-ranked player in the draw after the departure of Novak Djokovic, Medvedev remained imperturbable in the face of strong support for Kyrgios on Rod Laver Arena and typical gamesmanship from his Australian opponent as the Russian star ran out a 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 4-6 6-2 winner.
Kyrgios, 26, had whipped the crowd into a frenzy during his first-round match in Melbourne, describing the scenes on that occasion as a “zoo.”
But it was a more subdued attendance on Thursday as Medvedev largely kept a lid on the home support with his cool, calm and collected tennis.
Medvedev marches on
Medvedev and Kyrgios traded breaks in an opening set which the Russian second seed eventually won comfortably in a tiebreak.
Setting the scene for much of the chatter which would flow from Kyrgios throughout the match, the Australian was seen remonstrating with the match umpire over noise coming from the crowd – being heard yelling “will you not scream during my f**king serve?!” and earning a code violation and warning for the outburst.
Amid continued protests over the serve clock – which Kyrgios suggested was working against him – the Australian battled to stay in the second set before being broken in game 10 by Medvedev, who remained redoubtable in the face of antics from his rival which included pinching his towel at a changeover.
Kyrgios continued his running battle with the umpire at the start of set three, but admirably refused to fold in the face of pressure from Medvedev as both men produced some scintillating tennis.
To the delight of the crowd, Kyrgios played a sensational winner in game seven to earn break points after Medvedev had fired the ball at him from close range, only for the Australian to get his racket on it and send it back over the net.
That was fuel to Kyrgios’ fire, and while Medvedev saved one break point, Kyrgios produced a brilliant forehand winner to claim the game and move a break ahead in the set.
Kyrgios was inspired again in the following game as he held serve – including a brilliant trademark ‘tweener’ return during one rally as Medvedev suddenly showed signs that his momentum was faltering.
Kyrgios wrapped up the set 6-4 with a deft drop-shot to keep himself in the match.
The Australian had the momentum heading into the fourth set but failed to capitalize on a break point as Medvedev came through a tough opening game.
Gradually Medvedev re-exerted himself, hitting an untouchable down-the-line return to break Djokovic in game six and open up a 4-2 lead.
Kyrgios smashed his racket in disgust after Medvedev defended serve to move within one game of the match, which the Russian sealed by breaking Kyrgios for a second time in the set.
Medvedev shows maturity in hunt for second Grand Slam
Medvedev, the 2021 US Open champion, has been accused of letting his emotions get the better of him on court during some meltdowns of his own down the years.
This time, though, the 25-year-old showed impressive maturity and mettle to see off the threat from Kyrgios, whose evident talents belie his lowly current ranking of world number 115.
Indeed, the Australian had boasted a 2-0 head-to-head record against Medvedev prior to Thursday’s match, indicating the potential he posed to derail Medvedev’s bid for a second Grand Slam title.
Ultimately, Medvedev’s big serving and ground-stroke power saw him through as he booked a third-round meeting with unseeded Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp on Saturday.
Beaten by Djokovic in last year’s Melbourne final, Medvedev is aiming to become the first man to follow a maiden Grand Slam title by claiming the crown on his next appearance at a Major.
He is also aiming to become the first Russian men’s singles champion Down Under since Marat Safin won the Melbourne title in 2005.