Daniil Medvedev drew inspiration from Novak Djokovic in order to complete a storming comeback against Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Australian Open.

The Russian was two sets down and facing a quarter-final exit at the hands of his on-song opponent, but he dug deep to roar back and set up a last-four showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

After sealing a memorable 6-7 (4-7) 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 6-4 victory under the roof on Rod Laver Arena, Medvedev revealed that asking himself what world number one Djokovic would do had provided the catalyst for his revival. 

Asked how he managed to win a contest in which he had looked down and out, the US Open champion responded: "I have no idea.

"Talking about the match point, I managed to serve well. If I had a second serve who knows what would have happened.

"I was not playing my best. Felix served unbelievable; I was all over the place.

"Then, I thought to myself, what would Novak do? So I said, 'I am going to make him work'.

"I managed to raise my level and when they closed the roof I was able to go through momentum and I started playing better."

Medvedev, who was beaten by Djokovic in last year's Melbourne final, faced a match point against Auger-Aliassime in the fourth set before finding his groove.

He rode his luck at times, with Auger-Aliassime only converting two of his 11 break points as Medvedev improved his record in meetings between the pair to 4-0.

Daniil Medvedev came from two sets down to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime and reach the Australian Open semi-final.

The world number two battled to a 6-7 (4-7) 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 6-4 victory in a thrilling contest on Rod Laver Arena, where 2021 runner-up Medvedev fended off a match point in the fourth set.

He will now face Stefanos Tsitsipas in what is his second consecutive last-four outing at this tournament after improving his head-to-head record against Auger-Aliassime to 4-0.

Medvedev and Auger-Aliassime met in the semi-finals of last year's US Open, when the former prevailed in straight sets en route to winning the title.

But the Russian, beaten by Novak Djokovic in last year's final, was soon on the back foot in Melbourne, handing Auger-Aliassime a break point at 5-5 when he misjudged a shot that he thought was going out, but dropped in.

Medvedev then compounded that error with a double fault, but Auger-Aliassime fluffed his own lines as he failed to serve out the set before redeeming himself in the tie-break.

Auger-Aliassime continued that momentum in the second set, breaking in a mammoth second game after doggedly staying in a long rally before his opponent pushed a forehand wide.

Facing a two-set deficit, Medvedev battled hard in the third as that too went to a tie-break, which he was leading 2-1 when rain arrived and forced the roof to be closed.

He wasted little time getting the job done once play resumed, Auger-Aliassime finally showing signs of weakness as a couple of unforced errors sealed his fate in a one-sided breaker.

Medvedev survived a match point at 5-4 down in the fourth and reeled off three games in a row as he began to combine power and precision to level matters and tee up a decider.

After fending off three break points in his opening service game, it was Medvedev who broke decisively in game three to claim an advantage that he clung onto in the face of spirited resistance from his Canadian opponent.

DATA SLAM: Medvedev continues head-to-head dominance

This was the fourth meeting between these two and Medvedev had only previously lost one of eight sets.

But it threatened to be a very different story on Wednesday before the US Open champion clicked into gear to continue his dominance of the pair's head-to-head record.

Auger-Aliassime will be left to lament his failure to seize on a match-point opportunity as he converted only two of his 11 break points.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Medvedev – 49/53
Auger-Aliassime – 64/75

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Medvedev  – 15/9
Auger-Aliassime – 18/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Medvedev  – 3/5
Auger-Aliassime – 2/11

Daniil Medvedev's temper threatened to boil over during his match against Maxime Cressy, as the world number two reflected on a "crazy" final set.

Medvedev beat Cressy 6-2 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 on Monday to ensure his place in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

The second seed is the fifth Russian man in the Open Era to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne on multiple occasions, joining Yevgeny Kafelnikov (five), Nikolay Davydenko (four), Aleksandar Metreveli and Marat Safin (both three).

Medvedev had it far from easy against the world number 70, who reached the final of the Melbourne Summer Set earlier this month, losing to Rafael Nadal, and the match lasted three hours and 30 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

Indeed, Medvedev was extremely tense in the fourth and what proved to be final set, as he squandered eight chances to break before finally doing so to nudge himself into a 6-5 lead. 

His temper frayed at 2-2, however, with Medvedev shouting: "It's simply unbelievable how lucky he is. I've never seen anything like this in my life."

Medvedev eventually served out the win, taking the first match point on offer, but the US Open champion knew he had been in a battle.

"He really did [serve and volley] well," Medvedev said. "First set I had control, but the second set I didn't manage to break him but won the tie-break and just wanted to continue this way.

"When I lost the third [set] and when I had eight break points in the fourth set, I was like, come on. Some of them I could have won, but he played well, but on the last one I played well.

"It was not easy. If I didn't win the fourth [set] I'd have probably been in a difficult mental shape because I had so many breakpoints. Hell of a match. The fourth set was crazy."

Overall it was a deserved win for Medvedev, who made only 11 unforced errors in contrast to Cressy's 49, and even if he only took three out of 12 break points, the 25-year-old offered up just one to his opponent, which the French-born American failed to capitalise on.

Another annoyance for Medvedev was that he was again scheduled to play on Margaret Court Arena, rather than the crown jewel at Melbourne Park, Rod Laver Arena.

"I really don't know what I should do to play on centre court here," he told reporters.

Next up for Medvedev is a quarter-final tie against ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Medvedev has defeated the 21-year-old Canadian in all three of their previous meetings on the ATP Tour, including in his successful run to US Open glory last year, and in the ATP Cup earlier this month.

Daniil Medvedev did not hold back following his victory over Nick Kyrgios as he labelled spectators who jeered him during the second-round match of having "a low IQ".

The world number two continued his quest for a second grand slam crown, and a first at the Australian Open, with a 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 4-6 6-2 win over Kyrgios on Thursday.

Medvedev, who is the highest-seeded player at Melbourne Park following Novak Djokovic's withdrawal, prevailed against the home favourite in just under three hours.

He played the role of pantomime villain in front of a partisan crowd fully behind Kyrgios, which the Russian took exception to after sealing a place in the third round.

Medvedev, who will take on Botic van de Zandschulp for a place in the last 16, was particularly unhappy with those who made noise between his serves at Rod Laver Arena.

"It's a little bit disappointing," he told Eurosport. "I guess it's normal, everyone experiences it, especially when you play a home favourite and not just any home favourite, but Nick.

"A few moments on my serve, where he managed to make some good returns, and then break point on second serve and people are cheering like you've made a double-fault.

"That's just disappointing. It's not everybody who's doing it, but those who are doing it probably have a low IQ.

"When you get booed between first and second serves you have to stay calm."

The crowd interrupted the interview, at which point on-court reporter and two-time Australian Open winner Jim Courier attempted to play peacemaker.

Courier pointed out that the noisy crowd were shouting 'siuu' in homage to Cristiano Ronaldo's now-trademark celebration.

"Guys I can't hear him, please show some respect for Jim Courier, he won here guys," Medvedev said.

"Let him speak guys. If you respect somebody, at least respect Jim Courier. I cannot hear him guys."

Kyrgios described the 'siuu' chants as like "being in a zoo" after his first-round match, while Andy Murray admitted to being "irritated" by the persistent chanting.

"What I'm saying is that between first and second serves is not easy," Medvedev added. "I remember the games I lost on the break points it was the case and it's tough to play."

Further embracing his role as public enemy number one after eliminating Kyrgios, Medvedev signed the letters "SIUUUU" in the camera lens before exiting the court.

After winning the US Open, Medvedev is aiming to become the first man in the Open Era to follow up his maiden grand slam title with another in his next major appearance.

Last-year's beaten finalist saw off Henri Laaksonen in straight sets in round one and is now the strong favourite to advance past world number 57 Van de Zandschulp.

Medvedev hit 31 aces against Kyrgios – the highest tally in a single grand slam main draw match – en route to reaching the third round in Melbourne for a fourth straight time.

Reflecting on his impressive win, Medvedev said: "Five years ago I probably would break two racquets, just get angry, start shouting at my box for nothing.

"And it probably would not help me win the match. I could win some [matches] like this, but you cannot win grand slams like this.

"So it makes me really happy because I can still have some tantrums, we all know it, but I've been working on myself. 

"I've been working pretty hard last couple of years and I’m trying to mature as a tennis player and a person.

"The match like tonight, and a few last year, show that I'm capable of being really strong mentally no matter what happens on the court and I'm really happy about that."

Nick Kyrgios is box office whenever he plays – and the Australian Open gets a first-week gift in the form of a second-round blockbuster against Daniil Medvedev.

Kyrgios still managed to bring John Cain Arena to life even during a relatively straightforward 6-4 6-4 6-3 win over Liam Broady on Tuesday.

The Australian, who has dropped to 115th in the rankings after not playing since last year's US Open, is arguably the must-watch player in the men's draw.

Anything can happen when Kyrgios is in action. For all the frustrations about a thus far unfulfilled talent, Kyrgios – a two-time grand slam quarter-finalist – is box office.

On Thursday he faces the highest ranked player in the men's draw, last year's US Open champion Medvedev, in what shapes as being a thrilling contest.

Kyrgios has won both of his previous meetings with the Russian second seed, who is among the favourites to win the title at Melbourne Park.

With Roger Federer absent and Novak Djokovic having been deported from Australia, tournament officials have been gifted a contest that belongs in the second week.

All eyes will be on Thursday's schedule, with Kyrgios seemingly likely to miss out on playing on his preferred court – John Cain Arena – in a match that undoubtedly belongs on Rod Laver Arena.

"I mean, obviously either way it's going to be a hell of an experience for me. He's probably the best player in the world at the moment. So I'm pretty excited, I'm excited for that moment. That's why I play the game," Kyrgios said after beating Broady.

"I feel like those matches still excite me, to go out there and play the best in the world. That was always something I wanted to prove to people that someone like me could do, win those matches. I'm not going to go into it with a lot of expectation. I'm going to go out there, have some fun, play my game. I have a pretty set-in-stone game plan of what I need to do to have success.

"As I said, he's probably the best player in the world, he does everything extremely well. He's a hard worker, ticks all the boxes. I'm not going to even think about that now. To play it on John Cain would be – I'm just going to call it the Kyrgios Court – would be fun."

Kyrgios and Medvedev played twice in 2019, the Australian winning two tie-breaks in their most recent meeting in the final in Washington in August of that year.

 

Medvedev was a top-10 player then, but it would be later in that year that the Russian would truly make an impact, edged by Rafael Nadal in the US Open final.

He went 20-3 at majors last year, winning the title at Flushing Meadows, reaching the final in Melbourne and the French Open quarter-finals.

When he met Kyrgios in Washington, Medvedev had won four ATP titles. He now has 13 to his name.

"Yeah, I just became a different player in terms of ranking and titles. It gives you experience. That's where you can try to win matches which you have lost before, opponents which you have lost before," Medvedev said following his opening-round win against Henri Laaksonen.

"I think there are still some guys on tour who I haven't beat. So can stay like this. I think our last match was so long ago and we are both so different and a different momentum of our careers that it's really tough to count it. As I say, win or lose, I don't think these two matches gonna count into this one, so yeah."

Daniil Medvedev is happy to be considered the favourite for the Australian Open title but says Rafael Nadal remains the man to beat at Melbourne Park.

World number two Medvedev is now the top-seeded player in the competition after Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday.

Competing in his first grand slam since winning the US Open in September, Medvedev made a solid start by seeing off Henri Laaksonen 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7-3) on Tuesday.

The Russian, who lost last year's Australian Open final to Djokovic in straight sets, will now take on either Liam Broady or Nick Kyrgios in round two.

He is aiming to become the first man in the Open Era to follow up his maiden Grand Slam title with another in his next major appearance.

Medvedev is not shying away from the spotlight, but the 25-year-old considers Nadal the real favourite for the trophy because of his incredible record.

"I like pressure but last year I started well here in Australia in the ATP Cup and I managed to be in the final here," he said.

"The tournaments in Australia are always really important for me. I like to play in Australia on hard courts. I want to do better here than I did last year but it's not going to be easy.

"But I always say whoever is the highest ranked is the favourite so this time I will go with Rafa because he has 20 Grand Slams."

The 20 major singles titles won by Nadal is equal to Djokovic and Roger Federer, who is also absent in Melbourne due to injury, as the most by a men's player.

 

Just one of those titles have come at the Australian Open, however, with the Spaniard – who beat Marcos Giron in his opening match on Monday – going all the way in 2009.

Nadal and Medvedev are in opposite sides of the draw and are on course to meet in the final, but many challengers await between now and then.

That path became a little clearer on Tuesday as world number eight Casper Ruud withdrew from the tournament due to an injured ankle.

Ruud had been due to face Alex Molcan in the first round, but his place will be taken by lucky loser Roman Safiullin.

The tennis season has begun with Rafael Nadal, Ash Barty, Paula Badosa and Thanasi Kokkinakis among the champions at small-scale events in Australia.

Yet there has been one dominant story in the sport and little else has had a look-in in the lead-up to the Australian Open.

Now that Novak Djokovic knows his fate, there is the welcome prospect of eyes turning to matters on the tennis court, rather than the Federal Court.

With the action getting under way in Melbourne on Monday, Stats Perform looks at the main protagonists and what the numbers tell us about another high-stakes grand slam.

Djokovic absence blows open men's draw

As defending champion Djokovic heads for home, it is worth a reminder of how he has dominated this tournament.

Nine of his grand slam titles have come in Melbourne, and he has taken the trophy in each of the last three years, helping him cosy up alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 majors, an all-time record they share. Of the 'Big Three', only Nadal is in the draw this year, with Federer currently on the injured list.

Djokovic has the highest win percentage in the Open Era (since 1969) at the Australian Open, among players with 20 or more wins (91.1 per cent – W82 L8). He was hoping to join Nadal (13 French Opens) and Margaret Court (11 Australian Opens) in the exclusive club of players to reach double figures for singles titles at one slam.

The Serb was also aspiring to become the first man in the Open Era to win four consecutive Australian Opens. It happened once before the tour turned professional, with Roy Emerson winning five in a row from 1963 to 1967. Djokovic has left Melbourne with the title every time that he has made it through to the semi-finals.

 

So who takes the title now?

Only Bjorn Borg (89.2 per cent) has a higher winning percentage in grand slam matches than Nadal (87.7 per cent) and Djokovic (87.5 per cent) in the Open Era, among players with 100 or more wins. So why not Nadal?

The 35-year-old and Djokovic have carved up 12 of the last 14 grand slam titles, Nadal winning four of those (three French Opens, one US Open). He is battling back from a foot injury lay-off and coronavirus, and might need to get the early rounds out of the way without undue stress to stand a chance at the business end.

The two exceptions in the Nadal-Djokovic sequence of slam dominance have come at the US Open, with Dominic Thiem winning in New York in 2020 and Daniil Medvedev triumphing at Djokovic's expense in last year's Flushing Meadows final. Thiem is not in Australia, but world number two Medvedev is, looking to become the third Russian man to win two slams, after Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin.

The last man other than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic to secure back-to-back slam singles title was Andre Agassi (US Open 1999 and Australian Open 2000), but that is Medvedev's objective now, and he has the game to pull it off.

Nadal has reached at least the quarter-final stage in 15 of his last 16 grand slam appearances, winning six of those majors (four French Opens and two US Opens), so he may well be a factor.

Who else is in the frame? Alexander Zverev probably, having reached the quarter-finals in Australia in the last two seasons (SF in 2020 and QF in 2021). He won the Olympic Games and ATP Finals titles last year, so a grand slam is an obvious next step. He might want to keep double faults in check though, having served a tour-high 113 in slams last season.

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the Australian semi-finals in 2019 and 2021, so throw him into the mix too, and Matteo Berrettini might be a threat. The Italian, a runner-up to Djokovic at Wimbledon in July, served more aces than any other player in grand slams last year (311 aces, 16.4 on average per match).

 

Others have more modest ambitions

Andy Murray is back at the Australian Open for the first time since 2019, when he lost in the first round against Roberto Bautista Agut in five sets and was more or less given his last rites as a tennis pro after the match, having indicated he was close to retirement.

The five-time Australian Open runner-up last won a match in this tournament in 2017, when he reached round four. A tough opener against Nikoloz Basilashvili awaits.

Spanish 40-year-old Feliciano Lopez will make his 80th appearance in a grand slam and become the second man in the Open Era with 80 or more appearances at the four majors, after Federer (81).

Do not expect an Australian to be men's champion, by the way. The last time an Australian reached the men's singles final was 2005, when Lleyton Hewitt lost against Safin, and the last home champion was Mark Edmondson in 1976.

Barty backed in stacked women's draw

For the first time since 1997, neither Serena nor Venus Williams will take part in the Australian Open. Yet the women's tour is in rude health, even without those great bastions.

Ash Barty is world number one and a standout pick for many, only enhancing her claims after winning an Adelaide International title in the run-up to this fortnight.

But there is staggering depth on the women's side at present, and Barty will face stiff competition.

Incredibly, the last five grand slam finals have featured 10 different women, and teenager Emma Raducanu's against-all-odds US Open triumph in September shows best of all that new stars are emerging.

Yet since 2000, only three non-seeded players have reached the women's singles final at the Australian Open: Serena Williams in 2007, Justine Henin in 2010 and Garbine Muguruza in 2020. 

Barty could become the first Australian to be women's champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978, and the first to reach the final since Wendy Turnbull lost to Hana Mandlikova in 1980.

The Queenslander is the top seed, and the last time the number one failed to reach at least the fourth round at Melbourne Park was in 1979, when Virginia Ruzici lost her opening match. Barty ended a long wait for an Australian winner of the women's title at Wimbledon last year, so why not closer to home as well?

 

Naomi Osaka is back, so what should we expect?

Truth be told, that's hard to know. Osaka took time out from tennis after the US Open to focus on her mental health and enjoyed hanging out with friends, before deciding she missed tennis enough to go back on tour.

She had three wins at the Melbourne Summer Set tournament recently before withdrawing from a fourth match, saying her body had "got a shock" from the intensity. As defending champion in the season's first major, she has a target on her back and will need to find a way to handle that.

Over the past six seasons, only Osaka has managed to win back-to-back grand slam singles titles among the women, and she has done so twice (US Open 2018 and Australian Open 2019, plus US Open 2020 and Australian Open 2021).

The last player to win back-to-back women's Australian Open singles titles was Victoria Azarenka (2012 and 2013), so it does not happen regularly.

Osaka has an 85 per cent win rate at this tournament: since 2000, only Jennifer Capriati (90 per cent) and Serena Williams (89 per cent) have had a higher win percentage in the main draw.

 

You want challengers to the big two? Try sticking a pin in the draw

The Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, which goes to the champion, is a trophy that upwards of a dozen women will seriously believe they can win.

Aryna Sabalenka has reached the semi-finals of the last two slams but is mired in some kind of hellish serving groove, having made 74 double faults in her last four matches and lost the last three in a row.

Anett Kontaveit won a tour-high 39 matches on hard courts last year but has only been to one grand slam quarter-final – last year in Australia, losing to Simona Halep.

What about Ons Jabeur, who matched Kontaveit for a tour-high 48 wins across all surfaces last year? The Tunisian is queen of the drop shot, making 147 successful such plays on tour last year, more than any other player, and recently reached the top 10 in the WTA rankings for the first time.

Maria Sakkari reached two slam semi-finals last year, the first of her career, and the form of Barbora Krejcikova and Badosa in the past week in Melbourne marks them out as contenders. Both are recent fast-risers, Krejcikova already with a French Open title to show.

WTA Finals champion Muguruza could be the second Spaniard to twice reach the Melbourne title match, after Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (1994 v Steffi Graf and 1995 v Mary Pierce). Spain has never had an Australian Open women's singles winner: former French Open and Wimbledon champ Muguruza is an authentic contender.

Halep was runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki in 2018, a semi-finalist in 2020 and quarter-finalist last year, and a Melbourne Summer Set title was a handy warm-up for the Romanian. Consider her, too.

Monica Seles, in 1991, was the last player to triumph on her debut in the main draw, but she was already a grand slam winner (1990 French Open). Given the strength of the line-up, the prospect of a bolter coming through this field is unlikely, even if the example of Raducanu tells us anything is possible.

Novak Djokovic has won the last three Australian Open titles and lifted the trophy nine times in all, which means he arrived in Melbourne as a hot favourite to triumph again.

Yet even before the chaos of the last 10 days, this looked a tough Australian Open for Djokovic, given the likes of Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev have recently taken his scalp in major hard-court matches.

There was no doubt he was a worthy favourite, but Djokovic's dominance of the first half of last season was followed by a series of painful defeats, weakening his standing at the top of the game.

When the men's singles draw was made on Thursday, only two former champions featured: Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the 2009 winner.

Here, Stats Perform assesses the contenders to follow Djokovic onto the Melbourne Park throne.

NEXT NUMBER ONE? DANIIL MEDVEDEV

Last year's runner-up, given a sound pasting by Djokovic in a final that came nowhere close to matching expectations, has come a long way since that crushing blow. Russian Medvedev was the only man to beat Djokovic in a grand slam last year, doing so at the final hurdle of the final major, without dropping a set in the US Open title match. That denied Djokovic a calendar year sweep of the majors, which would have been the first time the feat had been achieved by a man since Rod Laver's 1969 complete set.

He also took the first set off Djokovic in the Paris Masters final in November, only to lose the match. What is clear is that Medvedev is amassing experiences against Djokovic: some good and some bad, but all surely massively helpful. He lost in their first three encounters but has won four of the seven since.

Progress like this is what repeat champions are made of. Medvedev has a 9-9 win-loss record when dropping the first set of matches over the past year, which shows he is not easily beaten. Only Djokovic (14-6) has a better record in that respect.

Medvedev has a 54-9 record on hardcourts over the past 12 months, has gone mightily close to hitting number one in the rankings, and might see a lot of that top step in the months and years to come. On the 52-week rolling list, he holds a 16-8 win-loss record against top-10 opponents, which is second only to Djokovic (22-5).

Should Medvedev pull off a second consecutive grand slam win, it would make him just the third Russian man to win two or more grand slam singles titles, after Yevgeny Kafelnikov (French Open 1996 and Australian Open 1999) and Marat Safin (US Open 2000 and Australian Open 2005).

The last player other than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic to secure back-to-back majors was Andre Agassi (US Open 1999 and Australian Open 2000).

 

OVERDUE SLAM INCOMING? ALEXANDER ZVEREV

The Olympic champion and ATP Finals winner is just lacking a grand slam title to confirm to the wider sporting world his status as one of the rising generation's preeminent performers. Zverev beat Djokovic in semi-finals en route to both of those big 2021 titles, and although he also lost three times to the 20-time major winner over the season, he took four sets off the man from Belgrade in those defeats.

Zverev is improving season on season, and if he avoids injuries or other tribulations in 2022 then he surely stands a strong chance of picking up that first slam before the year is out. He won six titles in all in 2021, more than any other singles player on the ATP Tour, and holds a 43-10 win-loss record on hardcourts on the 52-week rolling list.

When the draw was made, he and Djokovic were set on another semi-final collision course, and that prospect looked tantalising. Until recently so far apart, the gap has closed considerably, Zverev tallying victories that will have surely troubled the world number one.

NOT READY TO BE YESTERDAY'S MAN: RAFAEL NADAL

Because why the heck not? Nadal, at the age of 35, returned from a long foot injury lay-off with a title at the Melbourne Summer Set tournament this month, and if his record at the Australian Open is deemed unspectacular by some, the Spaniard himself takes great pride in his achievements.

Recently, in a Melbourne news conference, he was asked why he had not reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open since his title year, and Nadal swiftly put his questioner right.

"I am very sorry to tell you – I don't want to – but I have been in the final of 2012, '14, '17, '19," he said. "I got injured a couple of times here in my tennis career, so of course it's been a great tournament for me, and of course I had a lot of challenges in terms of injuries in this event. Sorry to correct you."

Polite as ever, but pointed. Nadal knows he has been successful in Australia and would surely not have returned this year if he felt there was no chance of another run to the final. He rightly takes issue with those who forget his feats. Remember, he, like Djokovic and Federer, sits on 20 grand slams.

Nadal reached the quarter-finals last year and lost from two sets up against Stefanos Tsitsipas, so he will want to banish that memory. There is little evidence of hard-court form beyond his win in a mediocre field last week in Melbourne, but he is Rafael Nadal and he wins tennis tournaments. At least one every year since 2004. A 6-8 record against rival top-10 players over the past 52 weeks is no great shakes, but you count out Nadal at your peril.

 

NEXTGEN OR NEXT NEW CHAMP? JANNIK SINNER

Tennis is such a generation game just now. The Big Three (Big Four, if you include Andy Murray) are in the twilight years of their careers, coming under long-awaited threat from the mid-twenties likes of Medvedev, Zverev, Dominic Thiem (absent from Australia), Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini.

Sinner is to the forefront of the pack of the next big group coming through (see also: Carlos Alcaraz, Lorenzo Musetti). At 20, the Italian is entering a big year in the context of his career. By the time Djokovic turned 20, he was sixth in the world, Federer was 14th on the day he left his teenage years behind, and Nadal was second. Progress comes at different rates.

Sinner was 15th in the rankings on his last birthday, in August, but has since dipped his toes into the top 10 and currently stands 11th. He won four ATP Tour titles in 2021, finished the year with a 49-22 record, and can reasonably be expected to kick on. The Italian has yet to majorly show up at the grand slams, with a Roland Garros quarter-final in 2020 his best run yet.

Expect that to change soon enough. Sinner is only 6-9 against top-10 players on the 52-week list, but he warmed up for the challenge that lies ahead in Melbourne with three straight-sets singles victories at the ATP Cup. His 42-14 record on hardcourts over the last year suggests the Australian Open should suit him as well as any slam.

Novak Djokovic has been drawn against Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round of the Australian Open as the defending champion awaits to hear if he can stay in the country.

World number one Djokovic was last week given a medical exemption to enter Australia, despite not being vaccinated, only for border officials to block it upon his arrival.

The 20-time grand slam winner was detained for four days while waiting to appeal the case on Monday, which went in his favour at Melbourne Circuit Court.

Djokovic has since started training ahead of the Australian Open, which begins next Monday, though immigration minister Alex Hawke may yet cancel his visa for a second time. 

A decision on whether Djokovic can compete in the first grand slam of the year, which he has won a record nine times, could be made on Thursday.

Should he be given the all clear to take part, Djokovic will face compatriot Kecmanovic in the first round at Melbourne Park.

Thursday's draw, which was delayed by one hour and 15 minutes for unspecified reasons, also saw fellow 20-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal paired with Marcos Giron.

Nadal is in the same half of the draw as Djokovic, meaning the pair could meet in the semi-finals, while third seed Alexander Zverev is also in the top half.

Second seed and 2021 finalist Daniil Medvedev is in the bottom half along with Stefanos Tsitsipas and will take on Henri Laaksonen first up.

In the women's draw, Australia's world number one Ash Barty will begin her quest for glory on home soil against a qualifier.

The top seed is on a collision course with defending champion Naomi Osaka, who goes face-to-face with Camila Osorio in round one on her return from a four-month break.

Reigning US Open winner Emma Raducanu is up against Sloane Stephens, who won the New York major in 2017, while Storm Sanders awaits second seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Canada will face Spain in their first ATP Cup final after eliminating defending champions Russia in Saturday's semi-final in Sydney. 

Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime beat Russian duo Daniil Medvedev and Roman Safiullin 4-6 7-5 10-7 in the doubles to complete a tense 2-1 victory for Canada.

World number 14 Shapovalov edged Safiullin 6-4 5-7 6-4, but US Open champion Medvedev levelled up with a 6-4 6-0 win against Auger-Aliassime in the other singles match.

That set up a doubles showdown for the right to face Spain, who overcame Poland on Friday, which Canada came from behind to win.

Russia held in the opening set to take the lead, though a break of serve late in the second set for Canada ensured the contest would be decided by a tie-breaker.

Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime held their nerve at the Ken Rosewall Arena, recovering from 6-5 down to win 10-7.

It marks a remarkable comeback in more ways than one for Canada, who lost their first four matches of the competition.

"Denis helped me and the team to push myself," Auger-Aliassime said in his on-court interview. 

"We had a tough start in the doubles, so to be able to come back in this way, it's really a team effort.

"That's what the ATP Cup is about. You can still win after being one-all and losing a tough singles. It's really about the team effort and we're happy to be through."

Felix Auger-Aliassime pulled off a terrific win over Alexander Zverev to carry Canada through to the ATP Cup semi-finals.

After Great Britain beat the United States 2-1 earlier to stake a claim for a last-four spot, Canada's singles players rose to the challenge to see off Germany.

That meant disappointment for Dan Evans and the British team, with Canada progressing to a clash with Russia as winners of Group C.

Denis Shapovalov got the better of Jan-Lennard Struff in a tight tussle, the world number 14 beating 51st-ranked Struff 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-3, giving Auger-Aliassime a swing at Olympic Games and ATP Finals champion Zverev before a possible doubles decider.

The world number 11 duly got the better of third-ranked Zverev by a similar score to the opening singles rubber, winning 75 per cent of first-serve points as he came through 6-4 4-6 6-3 late at night in Sydney.

Great Britain had impressed in edging out the US team, with Dan Evans beating John Isner and then teaming up with Jamie Murray to see off Isner and Taylor Fritz 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 10-8 in a dramatic doubles decider. Fritz beat Cameron Norrie in the second singles rubber.

Daniil Medvedev played a pivotal role as Russia wrapped up a perfect 3-0 match record in Group B, beating Italy 2-1 to nail down their semi-final place.

Defending champions Russia, who also won the Davis Cup last year, were on the back foot early on against Italy after Jannik Sinner beat Roman Safiullin, but US Open champion Medvedev ground out a 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 win over Matteo Berrettini to take the match – and the battle for top spot in the group – down to a doubles decider.

Medvedev and Safiullin were given a stiff test by their singles foes on the doubles court but had just enough to beat Berrettini and Sinner 7-5 4-6 10-5.

Daniil Medvedev quietened the home crowd in Sydney as he dispatched Australia's Alex De Minaur in straight sets to seal victory for Russia in the ATP Cup.

Medvedev, who led Russia to victory in last year's tournament, lost his first singles match at the 2022 edition, going down to France's Ugo Humbert.

However, the US Open champion hit back in convincing fashion against De Minaur, winning 6-4 6-2 in 80 minutes.

Medvedev's win took Russia into an unassailable 2-0 lead prior to the doubles encounter between the two nations, which the world number two also featured in alongside the in-form Roman Safiullin, who made it three wins from as many games by overcoming James Duckworth 7-6 (8-6) 6-4.

The Russian duo then made sure of a 3-0 match win in the doubles, coming back from losing the second set to triumph 10-6 in the decider.

"We fight when we play for our country, to the last point," said Medvedev, who also revealed he felt unwell before his singles game and had to take painkillers.

"I'm really happy for Roman, he's winning every match he's played so far. I watched his match tonight from the locker room. I've known him since he was 10, he had a good junior career and has been unlucky with injuries."

Russia have put themselves in a strong position to qualify from Group B, though they face Italy – in a repeat of last year's final – in their last match, with Australia taking on France, who are already eliminated.

France's elimination came at the hands of Italy, with Matteo Berrettini's singles win over Humbert was enough to secure victory for the 2021 runners-up.

Great Britain suffered disappointment in Group C, with Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov coming out on top 6-4 6-1 in the decisive doubles encounter against Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray. 

Dan Evans defeated Shapovalov in straight sets to nudge Great Britain ahead, yet Auger-Aliassime started Canada's comeback with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 win over Cameron Norrie.

It is all to play for in that group, with Germany having overcome the United States 2-1 – world number three Alexander Zverev in commanding form once more.

That leaves all four teams on 1-1 records and in with a chance of making the semi-finals.

Daniil Medvedev suffered a shock loss in his first match of the year as the US Open champion was beaten by Ugo Humbert at the ATP Cup.

World number two Medvedev led by a set and 3-0 but stumbled from there and went down 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 7-6 (7-2) at the team event in Sydney.

He put that defeat behind him and paired up with Roman Safiullin in doubles to clinch a 2-1 victory for Russia over France in the round-robin Group B tie.

Medvedev and Safiullin were 6-4 6-4 winners over Fabrice Martin and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the tie decider, with world number 167 Safiullin having earlier scored an impressive 2-6 7-5 6-3 singles victory over Arthur Rinderknech.

Humbert's remarkable comeback victory over Medvedev was the standout result of the contest, however, with the 23-year-old French left-hander saying afterwards: "It was a very tough match. I am very happy."

Metz-born Humbert added, quoted on the ATP website: "I had some opportunities in the first set and I just tried to stay relaxed and focused on what I had to do. It was a great match."

Australia had an eye-catching win in the same group, landing a 2-1 success over Italy, helped by Alex de Minaur beating Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini.

De Minaur scored a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) win to level the tie after Jannik Sinner swept past Max Purcell 6-1 6-3, with Berrettini and Simone Bolelli then beaten 6-3 7-5 in a late-night doubles tussle by John Peers and Luke Saville.

In Group C, Great Britain scored a 2-1 win over Germany, with Dan Evans and Jamie Murray teaming up in doubles to beat Alexander Zverev and Kevin Krawietz 6-3 6-4 to take the tie.

Zverev had earlier been too good for Cameron Norrie, posting a 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 win, after Evans sped to a 6-1 6-2 victory over Jan-Lennard Struff.

In their next tie, Germany will do battle with a United States side who were impressive 3-0 winners against Canada on Sunday. John Isner and Taylor Fritz scored singles victories over Brayden Schnur and Felix Auger-Aliassime before pairing up to beat Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov in doubles.

The Russian Tennis Federation sealed the 2020-21 Davis Cup after beating Croatia 2-0 in the final in Madrid.

Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev secured a third title for the RTF following 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 and 6-4 7-6 (7-5) wins over Marin Cilic and Borna Gojo respectively.

It completed a double for the Russians after Liudmila Samsonova inspired the women's team to glory in the Billie Jean King Cup last month.

Appearing in their first Davis Cup showpiece since 2007, the RTF had lost only two matches during the finals – one of which coming during Saturday's win over Germany with the outcome already decided.

Rublev broke in game seven on the way to taking the opening set against Gojo 6-4.

The world number five was strong on his first serve, winning 36 of 39 points, and drew first blood for his nation after prevailing 9-7 in the second-set tie-break.

US Open champion Medvedev then took on Cilic, who was attempting to keep Croatia's hopes alive in what was their third final in five years.

The world number two's strong serve proved the difference during a tight opening set. Indeed, he hit seven aces on the way to edging his nose in front 9-7 on the tie-break.

Medvedev then broke the world number 30 in game four to take command of the second set.

And a crucial second break followed at 5-2 up to secure a hat-trick of Davis Cup crowns for his nation, who were also victorious in 2002 and 2006.

Alexander Zverev is targeting an elusive grand slam title after the Olympic Games gold medallist capped a fine year with ATP Finals glory.

Zverev outmatched defending champion and second seed Daniil Medvedev 6-4 6-4 to claim his second ATP Finals crown in Turin on Sunday.

Champion at the Tokyo Games, Zverev became the first player to beat the world number one and two in the semis and final since Andre Agassi in 1990, having upstaged Novak Djokovic in the final four.

After celebrating his 59 tour-level victories – the best on tour – Zverev turned his attention to grand slams.

Despite his success at the Olympics and Masters 1000 level, Zverev is yet to break through at slams having lost last year's US Open final, while reaching three semi-finals previously.

Asked if he was closer than ever to winning a slam, Zverev replied: "I think so, yeah. I mean, why not, right?

"I've kind of succeeded at every single level. There's one thing missing. I hope I can do that next year."

Zverev, who claimed a tour-leading sixth title this season, added: "They [things] couldn't be much better, to be honest.

"I'm obviously happy with how the season went, I'm happy with the finish of the season because obviously it was a great year.

"To capture the title here has been incredible."

US Open winner Medvedev also backed Zverev to conquer a grand slam tournament, saying: "Sascha is a great player who is capable of beating anybody, so he definitely can win a Grand Slam, because It’s just obvious.

"But he's not the only one and that's where it gets tough. He was in the semi-finals of the US Open and lost in five sets [to Djokovic]. Who knows maybe if he was in the final he might have beaten me.

"It's just a matter of every tournament is a different scenario and surface, you have to win seven matches to be a grand slam champion. Is he capable? Yes. Is he going to do it? We never know."

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