© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Daniil Medvedev earns his first win over Nick Kyrgios on Thursday in Melbourne.

Medvedev Makes Title Statement With Classic Kyrgios Win

Second seed next plays van de Zandschulp

Daniil Medvedev recorded a statement win Thursday night as he fired a warning sign to the field at the Australian Open, overcoming home favourite Nick Kyrgios and a raucous Rod Laver Arena crowd to reach the third round in Melbourne.

The second seed had lost to the dynamic Aussie in their past two meetings, but he turned the tables with a rock-solid performance, advancing 7-6(1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 after two hours and 58 minutes in a box-office classic at Melbourne Park.

“I came to win this match and I am happy I managed to do it,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview. “It was a funny match because we both served big. In the second and fourth sets I managed to return a little bit more at the crucial moments. I just want to play my best, hit good shots and hopefully that will be enough to do something big.”

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A pumped-up Kyrgios hit with a variety of pace as he looked to disrupt Medvedev’s rhythm from the baseline. However, like so often, the Russian had the answer against the entertainer, firing 68 winners as he struck his consistent flat groundstrokes with great depth to put water on a red-hot Kyrgios performance.

“Against Nick, it's a tough matchup,” Medvedev said. “I know he can serve big, and that's already really tough. I felt like I was returning really well today and yet to break him it was really tough. But these kind of matches, first, second, third round of a slam, it's a big challenge where if you make it, you [say], okay, if I can continue playing like this, I can go far.”

With his victory, Medvedev, who earned a straight-sets win in the first round, extended his recent strong hard-court major record. The 25-year-old went 13-1 at the Australian Open and US Open in 2021, winning his maiden Grand Slam title in New York.

The 13-time tour-level titlist reached the final in Melbourne last season (l. to Djokovic) but will aim to go one step further this year, next facing Botic van de Zandschulp after the Dutchman advanced following the retirement of Richard Gasquet with the score 4-6, 6-4, 4-0 in the World No, 57's favour. 

Medvedev flew out of the blocks, breaking in the third game as the Russian dealt with Kyrgios’ attempts to slowball him. However, Kyrgios so often raises his level on the big occasion and he did so again against Medvedev, converting his fourth break point in the eighth game to level before they moved to a tie-break. It was one-way traffic in the breaker though, as Medvedev flattened Kyrgios and the crowd to lead.

In a tight second set, Kyrgios continued to showcase a mixture of flair and grit as he stayed in touch with the Russian with his deft drop shots and flat backhands. Yet the continuous pressure on return from Medvedev, who won 95 per cent (18/19) of his first-serve points in the set, finally told as he broke in the 10th game to take full command. 

The match blew into life in the third set when Kyrgios lit the touch paper with majestic shotmaking to break for a 4-3 lead. The Aussie showed great reactions at the net to put a backhand volley away, before breaking with a forehand winner. The World No. 115 let out a roar of excitement, jumped in the air and raised his arms as he walked back to his chair.

After holding to win the set, the 26-year-old conjured up another break point at the start of the fourth set, but Medvedev scrambled around the baseline to fend off the danger. It proved to be a turning point, with Medvedev going on to gain a crucial break in the sixth game when he hit a backhand winner down the line. The Russian demonstrated his big-game mentality to hold one final time to seal his first victory over Kyrgios.

Kyrgios, who earned wins over Medvedev in Rome and Washington in 2019, was aiming to record his first Top 5 victory since 2019, when he defeated then-World No. 3 Alexander Zverev in the Acapulco final.

“I thought the atmosphere was awesome,” Kyrgios said in his post-match press conference. “That's what sport is. You've got the most entertaining player playing in his home slam on Rod Laver. You'd expect the crowd to be like that. I can understand it's a gentleman's game, but it's about time that people embraced some sort of different energy in this sport otherwise it will die out. It's just that simple.

“We all know people can doubt me as much as they want but they know I'm going to turn up and show up for matches like this. That's why the crowd is the way it is, that's why the tickets are the way they are, that's why the views are the way they are. It all speaks for itself.”

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