Djokovic Works Hard To Beat Medvedev At Australian Open
Serbian comes through test for Nishikori quarter-final
The Serbian, who has won 14 Grand Slam championship crowns, was made to work to beat Russian No. 15 seed Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3 over three hours and 15 minutes on Rod Laver Arena. The match ended at 12:43 a.m. local time at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic, who has now reached 10 or more quarter-finals at each of the four major championships, will prepare to meet eighth-seeded Japanese star Kei Nishikori. Djokovic leads Nishikori 15-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
“I had to do post-match, all of the part of my recovery program, because I didn't feel so great in the last 20 minutes or so of the match,” said Djokovic. “So we'll see tomorrow how the body reacts, but I'm confident I can recover and I can be ready for next one.
“Kei won another marathon match. Congratulations to him for fighting back from two-sets-to-love down and break down. He's a fighter. He's a very talented player. One of the quickest players on the tour. A hard worker. I have lots of respect for him.”
Djokovic turned the tables on Medvedev in the first set, saving one break point at 30/40 in the fifth game, before applying the pressure to take a 4-2 lead, courtesy of three straight errors from his Russian opponent. Medvedev tightened up his game and broke Djokovic to recover to 4-5, but Djokovic sealed the 39-minute set in the next game with a backhand, his 11th winner.
“I thought I played a good match. I was a set and a break up, something similar like against to [Denis] Shapovalov," said Djokovic. "Unfortunately, I, again, lost my serve and got him back into the match. The tie-break was not that great for me."
In an enormously physical match, Djokovic began to wear down Medvedev, who grit his teeth to save five-break points in an 11-minute second game of the second set. The Serbian broke for 3-1 and came within one point of a 5-1 advantage, but Medvedev held his nerve to win three straight games. Medvedev won the first three points of the tie-break and saw three set point chances — from 6/2 up — come and go, before Djokovic hit a forehand into the net.
“After that, the first four games of the third set were crucial, and that's where I felt like he dropped physically a bit, and that's when I got on top of him to win the third set. In the fourth he started playing well again," said Djokovic. "Even though it was three sets to one, it seems like a five-set match, really. It was draining physically a lot, because you just could not rely on one-two punch tactics, you know, in today's match so often.”
Medvedev looked in the ascendency with a 2-1 lead in the third set, when he had Djokovic at 0/40. However, the World No. 1 escaped, before breaking in the following game and winning 12 of the next 15 points — including a second break at 4-2 — as Medvedev began to noticeably tire.
Three errors from Medvedev, under mounting pressure, saw Djokovic break for a 2-1 lead in the fourth set. The 22-year-old Medvedev continued to fight, but was unable to convert a break point at 2-3. Djokovic struck a forehand winner, his 43rd, to break and record his seventh win in eight matches in 2019.
“It was hard to go through him,” said Djokovic. “It was kind of a cat-and-a-mouse game for most of the match. That's why it was so lengthy. We had rallies of 40, 45 exchanges. That's why I think it was physically exhausting because of the fact that we didn't really allow each other to think that we can make a lot of unforced errors and give away points. His backhand is very, very solid. He didn't give me much from that side, but, you know, you can't always play on the forehand. You have to open up the court and try to be patient and construct the point."
The 31-year-old Djokovic guaranteed he will remain at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on 28 January by reaching the Australian Open fourth round.