Former Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka turned back the clock in a vintage performance to stun world number four Daniil Medvedev on Monday (January 27) and race into the Australian Open quarter-finals in the men’s singles campaign.
The popular Swiss star, who beat Rafael Nadal in the 2014 decider, dug deep to come from behind in five intense sets and win 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2.
It set up a last-eight clash with seventh seed Alexander Zverev after the German defeated Russian 17th seed Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4 to reach the season’s first Grand Slam quarter-finals for the first time.
Meanwhile, fifth seed Dominic Thiem remained unbeaten against Gael Monfils with a 6-2 6-4 6-4 victory to reach his first quarter-finals at the Rod Laver Arena.
But what was the highlight of the day was top seed Rafael Nadal’s clash with Nick Kyrgios which turned in the favour of world number one as he stunned the local hope in a 3 hour and 38 minutes battle.
Wawrinka vs Medvedev
A lengthy absence from the tour meant his world ranking plunged, but he has climbed back to world number 15 after runs last year to the last eight at Roland Garros and the US Open.
Beating Medvedev brought up another milestone in Wawrinka’s illustrious career — it was his 300th Tour-level win.
“Another amazing match. The level was super-high and the atmosphere is so special here in Australia,” said Wawrinka, who is into his 18th Grand Slam quarter-final, behind only Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray among active players.
“It’s amazing to still be playing and at that level. I’m really happy with what I’m doing on the court.” Three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka has not won a title since pocketing the 16th of his career on the Geneva clay in 2017, with two bouts of surgery on his left knee pushing him to the brink of retirement.
It was classic Wawrinka in the first set, with the 34-year-old playing some of his best tennis in a long time.
He broke to go 3-1 in front and then again to take the set in 32 minutes of precision and power, with the Russian struggling to match him around the court.
But Medvedev came roaring back to break and take a 3-1 lead in the second set as Wawrinka lost his range, breaking again to take the set in emphatic fashion.
The 23-year-old built on his advantage early in the third set, with his serve making life hard for Wawrinka who struggled to create chances and had trouble applying the finishing touch at the net.
In contrast, Medvedev was hitting winners and broke for 4-3 before sealing the set. They traded blows in a tight fourth set, desperately arm-wrestling for the edge with a tiebreaker needed and Wawrinka showing his experience to prevail and send it to a deciding set, where the writing was on the wall.
Medvedev had played five career five-setters and lost them all, while veteran Wawrinka had 50 under his belt and a 28-22 record.
He turned the screws, breaking the Russian’s opening service game then staving off three break points to go 3-1 in front, with no way back for the fourth seed.
Nadal vs Kyrgios
In a high-intensity clash, world number one Rafael Nadal defeated local hope Nick Kyrgios to advance to his 12th Australian Open quarter-finals.
The top seed fought for 3 hours and 38 minutes to register a 6-3 3-6 7-6(6) 7-6(4) win in the season’s first Major.
Nadal showed expressed respect for his counterpart during the post-match interview by saying, “He’s one of the highest talents that we have on our tour.”
He will now battle it out against Dominic Thiem who ruled Monfils out of the running.
Thiem vs Monfils
The two-time French Open finalist, Thiem, entered the fourth round battle against the 10th seed Monfils after clinching all five of the matches they had previously clashed in.
The Austrian, who did not encounter a single breakpoint against the Frenchman, said: “I think that I played my best match so far of this Australian Open. A very, very good feeling. The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and then was managing to hold my serve well. I’m so happy because I’m for the first time in the quarter-finals here.”
“I always played my best tennis against him, so maybe that’s one reason,” Thiem said of his 6-0 record against Monfils.
The 26-year-old will now meet top seed Nadal who is the winner of the blockbuster clash against 23rd seed Kyrgios for a place in the semi-finals.
Zverev vs Rublev
Zverev ended Rublev’s 15-match winning streak with a faultless 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory at the Melbourne Arena, to enter his first Australian Open quarter-finals battle.
In the one hour and 39 minutes game, the German put a clinical performance against Rublev who entered the tournament having won titles in Doha and Adelaide to start the season.
The Frenchman, who also won four singles matches at the season-ending Davis Cup Finals in November last year, lost after his rival broke the serve once in each set without facing a single breakpoint.
Zverev served 11 aces and hit his 34th winner to complete the win in straight sets.
(With inputs from agencies)