Russian star Daniil Medvedev overcame a raucous Rod Laver Arena crowd to beat home favourite Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open on Thursday night. The second seed needed four sets to defeat the Aussie 7-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 after two hours and 58 minutes at Melbourne Park. Kyrgios was pumped-up in front of the home crowd, hitting with a variety of pace to disrupt Medvedev’s rhythm from the baseline. However, Medvedev – current US Open champion – found a way to overcome the threat, firing 68 winners, making life extremely difficult for Kyrgios in the year’s first Grand Slam.
“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.”
“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.”
Earlier, Medvedev started on the front foot, breaking in the third game. Kyrgios, however, raised his level, converting his fourth break point in the eighth game, as they moved to a tie-break. The tie-breaker turned out to be one-way traffic, as the Russian went on to win the set. The second set was again a close one, with neither player allowing much time for the other to take advantage. Medvedev finally broke in the 10th game to take a 2-0 lead.
It was in the third set, the crowd came to life when Kyrgios broke for a 4-3 lead and he held on to the advantage to win the set. However, Medvedev found his rhythm once again, to comfortably win the fourth set 6-2 to clinch the match. “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.”