Australian Open Men’s Day 8:
Novak Djokovic was tested by rising Russian Daniil Medvedev, with the Australian Open top seed keeping his quest for a seventh title alive on Monday.
The ATP No. 1 started the second week of the season’s first major as he overcame Medvedev 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3.
The Serb reached his 10th Melbourne quarter-final; Medvedev, played the Brisbane final in the first week of the year.
But the Russian began to tire and suffer through the early stages of thigh cramping, That was enough of an opening for Djokovic, who advanced into a showdown with Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
Asia’s top player beat Pablo Carreno Busta in a comeback from two sets to love down, 6-7(8), 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-6(8) for a spot in his fourth Melbourne quarter-final.
After missing a chance to take a two-set lead, Djokovic swept the last five games to claim the third, managing his resources to defeat the tiring Medvedev.
Trailing 5-3 in the fourth, a frustrated Medvedev slammed his racquet to the court before exiting a game later after three and a quarter hours, saving a pair of match points.
“It was a physical battle” a tapped-out Djokovic said. “he’s been playing some great tennis in the past six months.
“I had to find a different way to go through him, he defends so well.”
“These are the kind of matches where you just have to hang in there and wait for your opportunities.”
Fourth seed Alexander Zverev went into massive meltdown, smashing his racquet into just a few unrecognisable bits of graphite and string during a tense moment in his 6-1, 6-1, 7-6(5) loss to Milos Raonic.
The Canadian winner will big for the final four against Frenchman Lucas Pouille, who defeated Croatia’s Borna Coric 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5, 7-6(2).
The fourth-round upset loss by the Zverev, coached by Ivan Lendl added to questions about Zverev’s fragility at the Grand Slams, where he reached his only quarter-final last year at Roland Garros.
The Zverev racquet destruction – played out over nine violent smashes during a second-set changeover with the 21-year-old trailing a set and 4-1 – provided much of the afternoon drama between the pair.
“It made me feel better. I was very angry, so I let my anger out.”
“I played bad, the first two sets especially I played horrible,” Zverev said. “I didn’t serve well, didn’t play well from the baseline.
“Against a quality player like him, it’s tough to come back from that.
Raonic got off to a poor start by dropping his opening serve, but quickly made up ground as he dominated to reach his fourth Melbourne last eight in five editions.
“I was quickly having regrets after that game,” the Canadian said. “But I ended up playing incredible, I did a lot of things extremely well.
“I was able to turn things around pretty quickly.”
With his superiority well-established against a flailing, frustrated opponent, – he won the fist two sets in just over an hour – Raonic still had to work.
He missed on two match points in the tenth game of the third set bofre finally wrapping up the victory on his fourth opportunity in the ensuing tiebreaker.
Raonic returned a ball from his shoelaces before volleying into the open court to wrap up victory in two hours.
“Things went well for me today. I tried to keep him off pace. My objective was to keep him as uncomfortable as possible.”
Zverev said he will not let his bad loss get him down.
“I’m not happy, but I’m not depressed, either. It’s fine. It’s a tennis match. ‘I have learned to take tennis matches as tennis matches and not the end of the world.
“If I would think (end of the world) every time I lose a tennis match, I would be very depressed about 15 to 20 times a year. So I’m not going to do that.’