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Tennis | Australian Open

Novak Djokovic © Getty Images

Djokovic passes Medvedev test, Nishikori into Open quarters



Novak Djokovic struck back for the old guard at the Australian Open on Monday, soaking up the pressure from an impressive Daniil Medvedev before crushing the young Russian 6-4 6-7(5) 6-2 6-3 to reach his 10th quarterfinal at Melbourne Park.

The night after Roger Federer was stunned by Greek tyro Stefanos Tsitsipas, there was another sniff of an upset at Rod Laver Arena as 22-year-old Medvedev rocked the Serb with a furious assault of power hitting.

Yet the Russian wearied in the constant attrition, and top seed Djokovic ended up cruising to victory, having passed easily his biggest test at what had been a sweat-free tournament.

The world No 1 will continue his bid for a hat-trick of Grand Slam titles and a record seventh at Melbourne Park against eighth seed Kei Nishikori, who earlier squeezed past Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in a five-set epic.

"Since I guess my next opponent is watching, I'm feeling fanstastic, never felt better in my life," 31-year-old Djokovic joked in his on-court interview with Jim Courier.

"I was hoping you were going to say the other guy won, but well done, Kei.

"(It was) definitely a physical battle," added the Serb of his match.

"It was difficult go through him ... this kind of match you just have to hang in there."

Federer's exit on Sunday has been widely touted as a changing of the guard and Tsitsipas's victory an inspiration for the Tour's upstarts.

Fifteenth seed Medvedev was certainly up to continue the theme and it took a lunging backhand drop-shot from Djokovic to save a break point in the fifth game.

The rangy Russian fought back from a break down but double-faulted to give up a set point and Djokovic sealed it with a forehand winner down the line.

A red-faced Medvedev trudged to his seat to munch darkly on a banana but did not spend too long chewing on the setback.

He bravely fought off five break points in the second game of the second set and broke back to 4-3 after a breathtaking rally, scrambling back and forth to retrieve drop-shots and lobs before passing the Serb.

It was Djokovic's turn to fume, and he wound up to smash his racket into the court before stopping himself.

There was no shaking the Russian, who edged an epic 42-shot rally and raced to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak.

The Serb was rattled, and he bungled a drop-shot to give Medvedev two set points before finding the net to square the high-quality contest.

Djokovic needed cheap points but there were none on offer, and he took a tumble at the net on serve at 2-1, drawing a gasp from the crowd.

But after dusting himself off and saving three break points from 0-40 down, the Serb was revived.

After taking Medvedev down in another marathon rally, Djokovic broke in the fifth game and the Russian suddenly appeared spent.

Nothing fires Djokovic like the smell of blood, and he went after Medvedev mercilessly, roaring through the set and breaking again to lead the final stanza 3-1.

Though dragging his feet between points, Medvedev snuck a break point at 3-2 but saw it disappear with a searing Djokovic forehand.

From there, the Serb kept him at arm's length before closing out the match with a string of clean winners.

NISHIKORI INTO OPEN QUARTERS

Japanese fighter Kei Nishikori recovered from two sets down to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals with an epic win over Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7 (8/10), 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 7-6 (10/8).

It was Nishikori's third five-setter of the tournament and the second time the never-say-die eighth seed had recovered from two sets behind.

His win over the 23rd seeded Spaniard took a marathon 5hr 5min after an opening set that alone lasted 76 minutes.

The former US Open finalist moves into the quarterfinals for the fourth time where he will face either top-ranked Novak Djokovic or 15th seed Daniil Medvedev.

COOL RAONIC IGNORES ZVEREV TANTRUM TO REACH LAST EIGHT

Milos Raonic kept his cool to reach the quarterfinals Monday as young Alexander Zverev went into meltdown and crashed out of the Australian Open.

The fourth seed erupted in frustration and fury during the second set of a 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) drubbing by the Canadian 16th seed, hammering his racquet into the ground eight times to leave it a mangled mess.

"I just tried to stay composed, "said Raonic. "It worked extremely well for me today.

"I played incredibly good, did a lot of things extremely well."

Zverev was tipped as a future Grand Slam champion after a breakthrough 2018 that saw him win the ATP Tour Finals, beating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the process.

Instead it was a familiar tale of woe as his much vaunted-talent deserted him again before he could reach the sharp end of a major.

The 21-year-old's miserable record in Slams was extended to just one quarterfinal, at the French Open last year, in 15 appearances.

All seemed well when the world No 4 broke former world No 3 Raonic's formidable serve in the opening game of the match.

"I was glad I turned around that start quickly," said Raonic. "I gave myself a lot of curse words after the first game."

But he then lost the next nine in an error-strewn display.

Zverev committed eight double faults and 16 unforced errors against only eight winners as the first two sets evaporated in 63 minutes.

When he dropped his serve to go 4-1 behind in the second set his seething anger was taken out on his unfortunate racquet, earning a code violation from umpire Carlos Ramos.

Zverev left the court for a bathroom break at the end of the set to let off steam and was at least competitive when he returned.

He stopped the flood of mistakes in the third set and took it to a tiebreak, saving two match points along the way.

But it was too little, too late as Zverev's abject record in Slams continued.

Instead Raonic, who lost to Andy Murray in the last four in Melbourne in 2016, moves on to face Borna Coric or Lucas Pouille in the quarterfinals.

POUILLE REELS IN CORIC TO MAKE QUARTERS

A slow-starting Lucas Pouille rallied from a set down to overcome Borna Coric 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 7-6(2) and advance to the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time on Monday.

The Frenchman made hard work of the fourth set, allowing 11th seed Coric to break back and drag the match into a tiebreak in the twilight at Melbourne Arena.

Pouille raised his game when it mattered, however, flicking a delightful lob over Coric to move within two points of victory.

The 28th seed Pouille grabbed four match points when Coric netted a volley and converted the first of them when the Croat hammered a shot over the baseline.

Pouille will meet 16th seed Milos Raonic for a place in the semifinals.



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