Wawrinka Breaks Down Medvedev Wall In Melbourne
Stan Wawrinka lost both of his previous ATP Head2Head meetings to Daniil Medvedev in Grand Slams, but turned the tables in a captivating comeback win at the Australian Open on Monday. The 2014 champion and No. 15 seed reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne with a 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-2 victory over the fourth seed.
”That was an amazing match and an amazing atmosphere,” Wawrinka said in his on-court interview. “It was really tough to play against Daniil. I had to raise my level in the fourth and fifth sets. The level was super high and the atmosphere is always something special here in Australia.
“I’m finding solutions. I was losing a bit of confidence in the second and third sets, and was fighting against myself to play my game. I had to fight, stay positive and I’m happy with the result."
The Swiss is through to his fifth quarter-final in Melbourne and reached the last eight at this event for the first time since 2017. Next up for Wawrinka is seventh-seeded German Alexander Zverev, who beat No. 17 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes. Wawrinka is 0-2 lifetime against Zverev.
”As a tennis player and tennis fan, I always try to watch the big matches. It’s going to be interesting to see them play,” Wawrinka said. “It’s amazing for me to keep playing here and to play at that level. I’m really proud of what I’ve done on the court and I’m looking forward to playing in the quarter-finals.”
Wawrinka started their Margaret Court Arena clash in peak form. Disrupting Medvedev’s flat groundstrokes with heavy spins and a variety of angles, the Swiss held the momentum throughout the opening set and broke Medvedev twice to take an early lead. Wawrinka landed 85 per cent of his first serves (17/20) and hit 16 winners to just eight unforced errors.
But Medvedev kept calm and weathered the storm. The fourth seed added more length to his shots in the second set, pushing Wawrinka back in the baseline rallies and earning a break at 1-1 after drawing a forehand error. The Russian cleaned up his game considerably, hitting just two errors in the set and frustrating his opponent with incredible defence. Medvedev grabbed an insurance break at 3-1 after prevailing in a lengthy rally and rode the momentum to level the match.
The effort it takes to win points against Medvedev began to take its toll on Wawrinka, who showed more visible emotion after falling short in points. Medvedev's depth on his groundstrokes prevented the Swiss from moving forward as frequently as he did in the opening set, forcing him to engage in 20-ball rallies that favoured the Russian.
Although Wawrinka didn't offer many opportunities, Medvedev pounced on the few he received. A loose service game from the No. 15 seed at 3-3 in the third set saw him hand a break to Medvedev with four unforced errors. The slight advantage was all the fourth seed needed and he went on earn a commanding advantage.
Medvedev and Wawrinka each raised their level in the fourth set, with breathtaking exchanges frequently leaving the crowd gasping in unison. Both players refused to budge and traded service holds to forced a tie-break.
It was the Russian who blinked first in the critical moments, gifting Wawrinka a pair of baseline errors and a 3/0 lead in the tie-break. Sensing the opportunity, the No. 15 seed began opening up on his backhand, charging the net to hit a delicate half-volley winner for a 5-2 lead. Wawrinka whipped the crowd into a frenzy after converting his first set point, tapping his forehead with his index finger as the match went into a decider.
Medvedev, normally unflappable in tight moments, showed signs of frustration for the first time in the final set. With Wawrinka unloading from the baseline and hitting corners with ease, the Swiss won eight of the first nine points and stormed to a 2-0 lead. A forehand passing shot at 4-2 gave the 2014 champion his fourth break of the match and he nodded his head at his team.
Wawrinka ripped a down-the-line forehand on his first match point to wrap up play after three hours and 25 minutes. He finished the day with a staggering 71 winners.
“He was playing really well,” said Medvedev. “I think I did a good job to make it two sets to one. I had some opportunities in the fourth set. I didn't have break points, but I was really close in many games. But Stan played well [and] served amazing.
“I think it was a tight battle where in the first and fifth sets he was really better than me. In the second and third sets, I was better. The fourth was kind of the deciding set, let's say, where he was really good in the tie-break. After a loss, I'm not disappointed too much. Here I'm like, ‘I did my best’. Of course, I could do some shots better. But he played a great match. I wish him only luck for the rest of the tournament.”
Medvedev dropped to 7-2 this season. The 23-year-old opened his year by leading Russia to a semi-final finish at the ATP Cup. He is still searching for his first five-set win at a Grand Slam (0-6).