Russian ace triumphs over hometown favorite at Australian Open (VIDEO)
Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev appears well on his way to what would be a third successive Australian Open final after he eased by local hero John Millman in straight sets (7-5, 6-2, 6-2) to qualify for the third round of this year’s first Grand Slam on Wednesday.
Medvedev, 26, overcame an unusually sluggish start in an opening set which saw his serve broken three times to eventually claim the opening frame, despite failing to convert his first set point.
However, it became business as usual in the second and third set for the Moscow native – securing a double-break in the second to open a sizable lead.
And any sign of a Millman fightback in the third was dismissed by Medvedev’s impressive selection of baseline shots as he looked to extend a run which has seen him lose just twice in the previous two Australian Opens.
Another run to the final would see him become just the fourth man in the Open era to reach three consecutive finals in Melbourne, and he might be boosted by the news that the man who beat him last year, Rafael Nadal, was surprisingly eliminated by the unheralded Mackenzie McDonald.
Smooth sailing for @DaniilMedwed, who accounts for local hope John Millman 7-5 6-2 6-2 to book a place in the third round.He's looking very, very good.@wwos • @espn • @eurosport • @wowowtennis • #AusOpen • #AO2023pic.twitter.com/YhFgTrM3wN— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 18, 2023
“I think it was a great match. The score in the second and third sets doesn’t reflect what happened on the court,” Medvedev said afterwards, before paying tribute to his opponent.
“First set, he managed to break me three times, which is not that often that it happens. I’m a tad disappointed in myself, but he played amazingly. Big credit to John.
“Physically, it was tough for both of us. At one point in the first set, I was asking myself how I was going to handle it.
“I was already pretty tired; but I had to continue and on a break point for me, I made one cross-court shot which he didn’t even run for. I realized then that it was also tough for him. It wasn’t easy in the first set.
“I think I was going for it a bit too much at times, so in the second and third I started a bit slower, and I was thinking, ‘OK John, if you want to beat me, let’s play 40-shot rallies!’ I managed to be a little bit more consistent.”
Medvedev will be in third-round action on Friday, when he will face either Sebastian Korda of the United States or Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, the 18th seed Karen Khachanov needed four sets to beat another Australian player, Jason Kubler, while another Russian, Anastasia Potapova, bypassed American Sloane Stephens in straight sets.
There was one notable surprise Down Under, though, as Russia’s eighth-seeded Daria Kasatkina was easily defeated by her unseeded compatriot Varvara Gracheva in two sets (6-1, 6-1).