Medvedev Runs Hot As Potential Djokovic Clash Looms

Second seed will next face familiar foe Bautista Agut

Daniil Medvedev moved closer to a blockbuster semi-final showdown with Novak Djokovic at the Astana Open after another commanding victory Thursday in Kazakhstan.

The second seed defeated big-hitting Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 6-3, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals at the ATP 500 event. Medvedev, who denied Djokovic’s quest for a calendar-year Grand Slam in the 2021 US Open final, has not lost more than three games in a set through two matches in Kazakhstan.

"I'm trying to be consistent. That was a little bit the goal this week," Medvedev said. "But the further you go, the more just [being] consistent is not going to be enough. Emil is a really tough player, he can bring a lot of tough matches to top opponents from what I feel like. I'm sure he's going to climb the rankings throughout his career.

"So I'm happy that today I managed to win pretty confidently and it was a great level."

Earlier in the day, Djokovic, who holds the record for most weeks spent as World No. 1 (373), enjoyed a similarly convincing 6-3, 6-1 win over Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp to also advance to the quarter-finals in the bottom half of the draw.

Medvedev arrived in Astana on a two-match losing streak, following a fourth-round defeat at the US Open to Nick Kyrgios and an opening-round upset in Metz at the hands of three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka. But he has needed just two hours and 35 minutes to win two matches this week and make his ninth quarter-final of 2022.

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The 26-year-old negated Ruusuvuori’s power with nearly flawless baseline play, making few unforced errors on the indoor hard court. He converted four of his nine break points to triumph after one hour and 15 minutes.

Medvedev was in full control for a large majority of the match. His only slip came at 6-3, 2-0, when he relinquished his serve by missing a forehand passing shot wide.

But Medvedev played dogged defence at 3-2 to recover his advantage. Ruusuvuori ended a long rally with a backhand into the net, and he was unable to recover again.

The former World No. 1 will next play Roberto Bautista Agut, who has proven a tough opponent for him in the past. The Spaniard leads their ATP Head2Head series 4-1, with three of his wins coming in straight sets. Medvedev’s only victory came earlier this year in Halle on grass. This will be the fifth ATP Tour quarter-final played between the pair.

"To be honest he's just a great player, always close to Top 10. I feel like maybe he's a little bit more shaky, I don't know, in [the] Grand Slam later stages because otherwise I don't see why he is not in the Top 5 from time to time," Medvedev said. "I'm happy that I managed to beat him once this year. This can give me a little bit of feedback on what I have to do to beat him and that's what I'm going to try to do tomorrow."

The 2020 Nitto ATP Finals champion, Medvedev is trying to qualify for the season finale for the fourth consecutive season. He is fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, with Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas already qualified.

In other action, Poland's Hubert Hurkacz eliminated home favourite Alexander Bublik 6-4, 6-4 in 80 minutes.

It was an important win for the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals qualifier, who is currently eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. If he reaches the final in Astana, he will move past Felix Auger-Aliassime into seventh.

Did You Know?
Medvedev is now 14-1 on hard courts this season against players outside the Top 50 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. His only loss came to Wawrinka, a former World No. 3, in Metz.

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