You are here

Medvedev ‘ready’ to make Australian Open title breakthrough

By AFP - Jan 22,2024 - Last updated at Jan 22,2024

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev celebrates victory against against Portugal’s Nuno Borges during their men’s singles match on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Monday (AFP photo)

MELBOURNE — Two-time runner-up Daniil Medvedev said on Monday he is good enough to take the next step and go all the way to the title at the Australian Open this year.

The Russian overcame stubborn resistance from Portugal’s Nuno Borges to book a place in the quarter-finals 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 5-7, 6-1 and will meet Polish ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz next.

World No.3 Medvedev, whose only Grand Slam title was at the 2021 US Open, was a Melbourne finalist in 2021 and 2022, losing to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

But he said he had improved since then and was capable of making it count this time.

“I know what I’m worth. I know how good I can play,” he said.

“I proved it at the US Open, especially for myself, playing some tough opponents, in my opinion, like gamestyle-wise. I managed to beat them.

“I’m ready. Hopefully I can show it on the tennis court. We can talk forever who is ready, who is favourite. You need to win.”

The 28-year-old must first get past Hurkacz, who has one of the biggest and best serves in the game, using it to great effect against French wildcard Arthur Cazaux.

They have met five times before, with the Polish ninth seed winning the last two, both in 2022.

“He serves well. It’s tough to return his serve. By number of aces, he was number one, maybe actually the best serve last year,” Medvedev said.

“That’s going to be the key. I need to stay strong on my serve, don’t give him the break, either try to break him or go to the tie-break and try to win the tie-break.

“Going to prepare well mentally tomorrow.”

Before this year’s Australian Open, Borges had never won back-to-back Tour-level matches outside of Davis Cup and his lack of pedigree was ultimately exposed.

The key difference was the unforced error count, with Borges making 66 to Medvedev’s 34.

But it was nevertheless a sterling effort by the 26-year-old, who was the first Portuguese player ever through to the second week in Melbourne.

Medvedev’s baseline power was a standout factor in the first set, with the only break coming in the sixth game as the Russian dominated long rallies.

Borges bravely held his own until 3-3 in the second set before crumbling under the Russian’s unrelenting groundstrokes, conceding the break.

But the World No.3 then lost focus and his fourth double fault of the match at 30-40 in the next game put the set back on level terms.

It went to a tie-break, with Medvedev surviving another double fault to prevail.

The Russian manoeuvred to the cusp of victory at 5-2 in the third set, but Borges refused to go quietly, winning the next five games to keep the match alive.

It was a wake-up call for Medvedev, who raced through the fourth set in 24 minutes as Borges flagged.

Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev overcame a fierce challenge from Britain’s Cameron Norrie to make the Australian Open quarter-finals after a gruelling five-set battle on Monday.

The German sixth seed won 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (10/3) in a match lasting more than four hours and will face second seed Carlos Alcaraz in the last eight.

“At the end of the day it’s a Grand Slam and everyone is playing at their best here,” said Zverev. “Cam has definitely been playing amazing tennis and I’m just happy to get through.”

Both men were rock-solid on serve in the first set until Zverev won a compelling 16-shot rally to earn two break points in the 11th game, making the vital breakthrough when Norrie netted.

The German, who had won all four of their previous Tour-level matches, broke first in the second set to ramp up the pressure on his 19th-seeded opponent but Norrie then went on a four-game winning spree to level the match.

A single break was enough to give Zverev the third set and the roles were reversed in the fourth set as Norrie hit back.

The feel-good factor rapidly evaporated for the British number one, who dumped a forehand into the net to lose his serve in the opening game of the deciding set.

But he was back on level terms within minutes, breaking for the fourth time in the match.

A wild forehand from Norrie in the seventh game handed Zverev two more break points but he failed to capitalise.

The deciding set almost inevitably went to a tie-break, which turned into a one-sided affair. Zverev raced into an 8-2 lead and he closed it out.

The German has a career-high ranking of number two but has never won a Grand Slam.

He was runner-up at the 2020 US Open and has reached the semifinals at the Australian Open and the French Open.

up
74 users have voted.


Newsletter

Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.

PDF