Andrey Rublev was pushed hard by Jeremy Chardy on Friday but eventually secured his 18th successive ATP 500 win to set up a semi-final meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Rotterdam Open.

Chardy managed to save match points in the second set, as Rublev wobbled at the crucial moment, but the Russian got the job done 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (2-7) 6-4.

The pair were on court for just under two hours and 40 minutes and racked up a considerable number of winners, with Rublev's 44 eight more than the Frenchman.

His 18-match winning streak in ATP 500 events has only been bettered on five previous occasions since 2009, all of which were achieved by Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer, who holds the record of 28 successive victories.

If he is to get any closer to Federer's remarkable haul, Rublev will have to go beyond Tsitsipas, but Friday's match took plenty out of him.

"I will try to do as much as I can to be ready for [the semi-final]… Stefanos also had two tough matches [this week]," said Rublev.

"He had three sets [on Thursday] and today he had three sets. Now he has to play doubles. It is not easy."

As Rublev alluded to, Tsitsipas certainly did not have it all his own way against another Russian, Karen Khachanov, coming from a set down to win 4-6 6-3 7-5.

Tsitsipas also had to contend with being 3-1 down in the third set – but Rublev knows all about the Greek's ability to come back from the brink having lost to him in last year's ATP Finals despite having match point.

"He [Khachanov] was playing great tennis and I wasn't sure if I would be able to compete," Tsitsipas said after the contest.

"I had an amazing 5-0 lead in the second set and that brought a lot of confidence into my game. We had great rallies and the quality of tennis was excellent. You need to stay as calm as possible in three-setters. I have won a lot in the past and with experience, it gives me an idea of how to play in these tight moments."

Borna Coric and Marton Fucsovics will go head-to-head in the other semi-final.

Croatian Coric came through in straight sets against Kei Nishikori, though it was by no means a straightforward victory as he was pushed to tie-breaks in both sets, winning 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4).

Fucsovics saw off Tommy Paul 6-4 6-3 to reach the last four.

Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas emerged from a brutal battle with Hubert Hurkacz to reach the quarter-finals of the Rotterdam Open. 

The second seed will meet Karen Khachanov in the last eight of the ATP 500 event. 

His progress was in doubt for parts of his 6-4 4-6 7-5 victory over Hurkacz, the match lasting two hours and seven minutes on Thursday. 

But Tsitsipas, the highest seed left in the competition after an early exit for Daniil Medvedev, did not allow Hurkacz a single break point either side of the solitary loss of serve he suffered in the second set. 

"I played really well," said Tsitsipas, who has an 8-1 record this year. 

"Both of us, we played a high [level] of tennis and didn’t give [away] many break-point opportunities. 

"[There were] pretty good serves from both sides and I am really glad that I fought so hard towards the very end. It was exhausting, but it paid off."

It was the fifth straight match between Tsitsipas and Hurkacz that required a final set. 

"Hubert is a very tough competitor," added the Greek, who is yet to win an ATP 500 tournament.  

"We have played loads in the past. Every single time I go out on the court, I know what to expect.  

"He is a fighter and he doesn’t like to give up, so it always makes him a very difficult opponent." 

Dusan Lajovic had stunned Melbourne runner-up Medvedev with a straight-sets win on Wednesday. 

However, his campaign was ended by Borna Coric, who won comfortably 6-3 6-2 to ensure he will face Kei Nishikori in the quarters.  

Veteran qualifier Jeremy Chardy defeated David Goffin, ending the Belgian's hopes of back-to-back ATP titles, and will take on Andrey Rublev in the last eight.

Andrey Rublev will face Andy Murray at the Rotterdam Open after the Russian battled past Marcos Giron 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.

The appetising showdown between Rublev and former world number one Murray was handed a primetime evening slot on Wednesday's schedule by tournament organisers, given the appeal of a clash between one of the ATP Tour's brightest younger stars and the three-time grand slam winner.

World number eight Rublev is, at the age of 23, among the band of players who have emerged as potential torchbearers for the men's tour once the likes of Murray and the big three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic make way.

After wildcard Murray's win over Robin Haase on Monday, Rublev secured victory on Tuesday against 80th-ranked Giron, who earned his place in the ATP 500 tournament through qualifying.

Murray and Rublev have played only once before, in entirely different circumstances to those surrounding Wednesday's match. That previous encounter came at the Australian Open in 2017, with Murray, then ranked number one in the world, scorching to a 6-3 6-0 6-2 win in round two.

The Scot has since undergone major surgery on a hip problem that has threatened to end his career, and heads into his clash with Rublev ranked 123rd in the world but eager to show he can compete at a high level.

"Andy is a true legend and I have a really good connection with him. I really like him as a person and as a player. He destroyed me once in the past. I'm sure we'll have great, long rallies and it will be a fight," Rublev said, quoted via the ATP website.

Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas passed his first-round test by scoring a narrow win over a player that beat Murray in Montpellier last week – the second seed and world number six overcoming Belarusian Egor Gerasimov 7-6 (7-4) 7-5.

The tournament lost a three-time grand slam champion when Stan Wawrinka was edged out 6-4 7-5 by Russian Karen Khachanov in a tough first-round matchup for the Swiss, who sits just one place above the Russian at number 20 in the world rankings.

Alex de Minaur beat fellow Australian John Millman 6-1 6-4, while top seed Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev begins his challenge on Wednesday when he tackles Serbian Dusan Lajovic.

Daniil Medvedev believes he has "nothing to lose" in Sunday's Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic.

Medvedev reached his second grand slam decider after an impressive 6-4 6-2 7-5 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in their last-four clash in Melbourne on Friday.

The Russian fourth seed became the 25th man in the Open Era to record a Tour-level winning streak of 20 as he continued his incredible form.

Medvedev said in an on-court interview all the pressure in the final would be on Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open a record eight times.

Despite seeking his maiden grand slam crown, the 25-year-old – who has won three of his past four meetings with Djokovic – said he had nothing to lose in the final.

"I think he's the favourite because he didn't lose. In eight occasions that he was here in the semis he won the tournament. Me, I'm, how you can call it, I don't know how you call it in English, not an outsider, but I'm the challenger, the guy that challenges the guy who was eight times in the final and won eight times. And I'm happy about it," Medvedev told a news conference.

"I like to play against Novak. We have, since the first one when I was ranked 60, we had always tough matches physically, mentally. And he's one of the greatest tennis players in the history of tennis. So playing the final against him is superb. I'm really happy about it. Let's see what happens on Sunday.

"When I say no pressure, for sure when we get out there we both feel pressure. I want to win my first one. He wants to win number 18. We don't know for who the crowd is going to be. It's all the small details.

"I think if we talk in general, well, I have nothing to lose, to be honest."

Medvedev hit 46 winners and 21 unforced errors against Tsitsipas, overcoming a third-set blip to close out his victory.

As the Rod Laver Arena crowd attempted to get Tsitsipas back into the contest, Medvedev claimed a key break in the 11th game of the third set with a tremendous backhand pass down the line, which he celebrated with a dance.

"They [the crowd] were mostly for him, and that was, you know, the moment that I won the match, we should say. Of course you have to serve after, but that was important moment. So I wanted them to recognise me, I would say, because the shot was unbelievable, I think one of my best shots in my career," Medvedev said.

"Actually, my legs were facing the other way of the court because I didn't have time, so I have no idea how I made this, and I was really happy about it."

Stefanos Tsitsipas paid tribute to Daniil Medvedev for his performance in their Australian Open semi-final on Friday.

Medvedev set up a clash against Novak Djokovic in the decider in Melbourne after producing an impressive performance in a 6-4 6-2 7-5 victory over Tsitsipas.

The Russian fourth seed became the 25th man in the Open Era to record a Tour-level winning streak of 20 as he continued his incredible form.

Tsitsipas, who has lost six of seven meetings with Medvedev, credited the 2019 US Open runner-up for his display.

"Everyone saw what just happened out there. I'm the last person you should be asking this," the Greek fifth seed told a news conference.

"I was just focused on my game, and he put out his show. He became Daniil Medvedev for three sets in a row."

Medvedev hammered 46 winners to go with just 21 unforced errors, while dropping serve just once.

He will be aiming for his maiden grand slam title when he faces Djokovic, a player he has beaten in three of their previous four meetings.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see Daniil win the tournament. But, you know, it's a strange scenario," Tsitsipas said.

"I played Rafa [Nadal] here two years ago. I found his performance against me that day phenomenal. I was 100 per cent sure he was gonna win the tournament. And I ended up being wrong.

"Who knows? I don't know. Like, Djokovic is playing well too. Look, I'm not a betting website. I don't know what to say. Might be Medvedev, would be good for him, good for tennis."

Daniil Medvedev produced an impressive performance to outclass Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets and book an Australian Open final meeting with Novak Djokovic.

Medvedev was in irresistible form on Rod Laver Arena, needing just over two hours to get past Tsitsipas 6-4 6-2 7-5 on Friday and move into his second grand slam final.

The Russian fourth seed extended his winning streak to 20 matches heading into Sunday, when he will be aiming to claim his maiden major title.

Tsitsipas, coming off an incredible comeback win over Rafael Nadal in the last eight, had the backing of the Melbourne crowd, but no answers to Medvedev, who won for the sixth time in seven meetings between the pair despite a third-set blip.

After an entertaining but largely uneventful start, Medvedev broke for 3-2, a wonderful backhand winner down the line followed up by Tsitsipas sending a forehand just long.

Medvedev was boosted by the break, holding to love in the next game as Tsitsipas' errors mounted, and the Russian closed out the first set despite an increasingly boisterous crowd urging the Greek on.

The baseline exchanges were being dominated by Medvedev, who broke in the third game of the second set on the back of a whipped forehand winner and another down the line.

Medvedev broke to love in the seventh game and he lost just three points on serve in the second set to take complete control.

He continued to dictate points and hit winners at will, breaking serve again to begin the third set, before a blip – a tame forehand into the net seeing Tsitsipas break back, much to the delight of most fans in Rod Laver Arena.

Medvedev saved a break point in the eighth game with an ace down the T to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd.

He came from 0-30 down to hold for 5-5 in what would prove a key moment, a spectacular backhand pass seeing him break serve – and into a dance – in the following game on his way to victory.

 

Data Slam: Medvedev in magical form ahead of Djokovic final
Medvedev became the 25th man in the Open Era to record a Tour-level winning streak of 20, and he is just the sixth active player to do so, joining Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro. He is also on a 12-match winning streak against top-10 opponents.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Medvedev – 46/21
Tsitsipas – 19/30

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Medvedev – 17/2
Tsitsipas – 3/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Medvedev – 5/9
Tsitsipas – 1/3

Rafael Nadal insists he was not struggling with injury as he crashed out of the Australian Open but acknowledged a lack of match practice could have contributed to his quarter-final collapse against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The 20-time grand slam champion was dealing with a back issue at the start of the tournament, although he managed to advance to the last eight without dropping a set.

That impressive run appeared set to continue as Nadal won the opening two sets against fifth seed Tsitsipas, only for the match to turn on its head after a tie-break in the third

Tsitsipas emerged a 3-6 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-5 winner after just over four hours, becoming only the second player – after Fabio Fognini – to triumph from two sets down against Nadal at a major.

Post-match questions put to Nadal predictably centred on the potential impact of his back woe, but he insisted there was no physical pain on Wednesday.

However, reflecting on "just another story in my tennis career", the Spaniard repeatedly referred to the difficulty of preparing for a tournament amid such problems.

"I think I was in great condition before here," he said. "Then I've been a bit unfortunate for what happened for 20 days, and then I fight back to play, I think, decent tennis.

"Today wasn't enough. It was close, just that's tennis. That's all. That's the sport. One player wins; the other loses.

"Today I lost, so the only thing that I can do is try to be better next time, and today congratulate him."

Claiming the key was instead two costly mini-breaks in the breaker, Nadal added: "I am not complaining much.

"I think physically, it has been a very humid day out there. Physically I was not fantastic but not bad, you know? I was able to fight until the end, and that's it.

"The whole issue is I missed an easy smash at the beginning of the third, an easy forehand with 2-1 in the tie-break, and then another smash in that tie-break.

"That tie-break I made a couple of mistakes that I can't make to win the match. He played well then later. Well done."

Nadal was chasing a record-breaking 21st major championship, yet only one of those triumphs has come in Melbourne – back in 2009.

The 34-year-old has lost four finals, as well as regularly dealing with injury concerns at the first slam of the season.

But asked if he felt "cursed", he responded firmly: "No. No, no, no. That's sport. Sometimes things go well; other times things goes worse.

"Unfortunately for me, in this tournament, I had more injuries than in the others. Then matches that you lose like today against one of the best players of the world is something that happens.

"No, no, no. Not at all feeling unlucky for me and not at all complaining about my luck here in Australia.

"Everyone has what we deserve. Tennis isn't a sport that is fair. I have what I deserved in my career, and over here in Australia I had chances, but I was not able to convert it. That's all. I didn't deserve more."

Use of the word "unlucky" brought a similar response, as Nadal insisted he was not looking for excuses.

"We can find excuses or reasons or maybe this quarantine that we need to be more time in the room than usual, yes, maybe," he said. "But I am not the guy that is going to find excuses on that or going to complain about what happened, no.

"Just accept. I never considered myself an unlucky person at all. It doesn't matter the injuries that I had. I think I am very lucky person.

"The only thing that I can do is just keep going. I put myself in a position, even with the challenges that I faced, that I was in quarter-finals with two sets up, close to being in the semi-finals.

"So, it has been a chance lost, yes, but life continues. I hope to keep having chances. Well, I'm going to keep fighting for it."

Stefanos Tsitsipas struggled to explain how he pulled off a remarkable turnaround against Rafael Nadal to reach the last four of the Australian Open.

The fifth seed had only once before beaten Nadal and was facing a seventh career defeat to the 20-time grand slam champion as he fell two sets behind on Rod Laver Arena.

Instead, Tsitsipas rallied after a third-set tie-break to triumph 3-6 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-5 and advance to a semi-final against Daniil Medvedev.

The Greek joined Fabio Fognini, at the 2015 US Open, as the only players to overturn a two-set deficit to beat Nadal at a major.

Victory had seemed particularly remote as Tsitsipas struggled to make any inroads on Nadal's serve. He won only 10 receiving points across the first two sets - two of those coming courtesy of double faults - and had to wait until the final game before the breaker in the third to add an 11th.

Then, to the victor's bemusement, the match turned, ending Nadal's run of 35 consecutive set wins at grand slams.

"I have no words to describe what has just happened on the court," Tsitsipas said. "My tennis speaks for itself.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to fight at such a high level and leave it out on the court. I started very nervously.

"I don't know what happened after the third set. I flew like a bird and everything worked for me."

Tsitsipas, who made just four unforced errors in the pivotal third set, added: "I focused on staying calm and holding my nerves today. I have failed to do so in some of my matches.

"I stayed calm in the tight moments and I kept everything to myself. I am really happy with the attitude that I showed on the court."

Now Tsitsipas must take on another player he has only previously defeated once, although that win came in his most recent meeting with Medvedev in 2019.

"He plays very well and has been very consistent, with lots of consecutive wins," Tsitsipas said. "I need to recover and have a good ice bath.

"I am looking forward to the match and each match I play here is an opportunity to play my best tennis. It will be amazing to see the crowds again."

Rafael Nadal suffered a remarkable collapse to exit the Australian Open at the quarter-final stage despite earlier leading Stefanos Tsitsipas by two sets.

Only once in Nadal's grand slam career had he previously let a two-set lead slip and such a slump appeared entirely improbable as he dominated Tsitsipas on Rod Laver Arena.

But the 20-time major champion, chasing a record-breaking 21st title, struggled to recover his momentum after dropping a set for the first time in the tournament when the third went to a tie-break.

The courageous Tsitsipas grew in confidence and landed a momentous second career win over Nadal to reach a third slam semi after a four-hour 3-6 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-5 epic.

Rafael Nadal's bid to win a record 21st grand slam title remains on track, while there is a distinctly Russian flavour to the quarter-final line-up at the Australian Open.

World number two Nadal eased past Italian 16th seed Fabio Fognini behind closed doors at Melbourne Park in sunny and warm conditions on Monday.

Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev ensured Russia made history en route to the quarters in Melbourne.


FAMILIAR TERRITORY FOR NADAL

Nadal reached the Australian Open quarter-finals for the 13th time in his career after outclassing Fognini 6-3 6-4 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.

Stuck on 20 slam championships alongside Roger Federer, who is absent in Melbourne, Nadal is also looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win each of the four majors twice.

The 2009 Australian Open champion was too good for Fognini as Nadal continued his fine run of not dropping a set en route to the last eight in 2021.

Only at the French Open, where he is a 13-time champion, has Nadal reached the quarter-finals more often (14) than at the Australian Open. Federer (15) and John Newcombe (14) are the only men to have reached more Australian Open quarter-finals.

Nadal, who hit 24 winners against Fognini, will face fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the semi-final after ninth seed Matteo Berrettini withdrew with an abdominal strain before Monday's showdown.

 

HISTORY FOR RUSSIA​

For the first time in the Open Era, three Russian men have advanced to the quarter-finals of a slam.

Medvedev – the fourth seed – and Rublev joined countryman Aslan Karatsev in the last eight following their respective triumphs on Monday.

Runner-up at the 2019 US Open, Medvedev made light work of American Mackenzie McDonald 6-4 6-2 6-3, extending his winning streak to 18 matches as he reached his maiden Australian Open quarter-final.

"It's an exciting moment to be in the quarters in Australia for the first time. That's a great achievement for me," Medvedev said.

"I want more all the time, but step by step. So this is amazing … I finished at 1.30 [hours], which is important in the later stages of the grand slams, to make fast matches."

It will be an all-Russian affair in the quarters after seventh seed Rublev benefited from a walkover.

Rublev was leading 6-2 7-6 (7-3) when Norway's Casper Ruud retired on Margaret Court Arena.

"At least one of us will be in the semi-finals. So it's good news but yeah, it's going to be a tough match," said Rublev, who featured in last year's French Open quarter-finals.

"Last time he beat me in the quarters in the US Open. So now we're in the quarters in the Australian Open, so we'll see what's going to happen."

Rafael Nadal was able to offer a positive update on his fitness after easing into the second week at the Australian Open.

The 20-time grand slam champion is playing in his first tournament since November's ATP Finals and faced a battle to make the Melbourne major due to a back problem.

But Nadal has made the fourth round without dropping a set, seeing off Cameron Norrie 7-5 6-2 7-5 on Saturday.

"I did things well, [then there are] things that I need to improve. Something normal," the Spaniard said. "But, yes, happy, of course. Second week, straight sets. Can't complain."
 

PAIN RELIEF AT LAST FOR RAFA

Nadal might have been similarly dominant in his prior matches but revealed after beating Norrie he is only now feeling fitter.

"No, the back was not getting better each day; it was getting better today," he said. "But today is better, yeah, the first day I feel an improvement, and that's the most important thing for me today, more than any other thing.

"Of course, I was not serving my normal serve for the last 15 days. Today is the first day that I started to serve again my normal serve.

"But yesterday I didn't practice, so today was just warming up with the new, normal movement.

"So, of course, I didn't serve bad, but I can do better, I think. And I'm looking forward to doing it better. It has been an important victory for me.

"The biggest victory is the back is better for the first day. That's the most important thing."

Nadal will face Fabio Fognini next after he ended Australia's interest in the home grand slam with a 6-4 6-3 6-4 victory over Alex De Minaur, the host nation's final hope.

"It's one of those matches," an impressed De Minaur said. "You're out there leaving it all out there, but you can just feel that he's playing at another level."
 

MOODY MEDVEDEV MAKES AMENDS

There are three Russian men in the last 16 for the first time in Melbourne in the Open Era, but the country's biggest name survived a major scare.

Daniil Medvedev was cruising after taking the first two sets against Filip Krajinovic, only to drop the next two and engage in an angry back-and-forth with coach Gilles Cervara.

Cervara eventually left Medvedev's box as the fourth seed trailed 4-1 in the fourth set and did not return, but the 25-year-old recovered to get the job done in dominant fashion, a 6-3 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-0 victor.

Medvedev, with Mackenzie McDonald next, said of the incident with Cervara: "He said just before leaving that he's sure I'm going to win the match, but he's going to leave to let me be more calm.

"Sometimes maybe I will disagree but this time for sure it was a good thing to do.

"Today it helped, and definitely we're going to talk about it a little bit, but there is not a big deal."

Andrey Rublev joined Medvedev and compatriot Aslan Karatsev in the fourth round as he improved to 7-0 for the year with a three-set defeat of Feliciano Lopez. He will play Casper Ruud.
 

HISTORY CHANNEL OVER CHAMP

Defending champion Novak Djokovic's struggles with injury on Friday might have intrigued much of the tennis public, but Stefanos Tsitsipas was not overly concerned.

The fifth seed, who breezed past Mikael Ymer, did not watch the match and revealed he has little interest in keeping up with the exploits of his rivals.

"I might watch [Djokovic and Nadal] a little bit on TV if it happens that the TV is on or the right channel is on," he said. "Otherwise I just switch to History Channel.

"Definitely not tennis history. I think I have enough of tennis being in here every single day."

Tsitsipas will next play Matteo Berrettini, who is enjoying his best run at the Australian Open and saw off a side complaint to advance in three sets by edging Karen Khachanov, another Russian, in a trio of tie-breakers.

Rafael Nadal was able to ease through to the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday, thanks in part to the help of YouTube.

The Spaniard looked in impressive form as he swept aside Michael Mmoh 6-1 6-4 6-2 in the evening session at Melbourne Park, with perhaps the biggest hinderance for Nadal caused by a rowdy spectator who was eventually escorted out of Rod Laver Arena.

Having come through qualifying, Mmoh had rallied to stun Viktor Troicki in the opening round. However, he never threatened a stunning upset of the 2009 champion, who will next face Cameron Norrie.

Meanwhile, Daniil Medvedev marked his birthday with a routine win of his own, the in-form Russian stretching his unbeaten run to 16 matches to suggest he is a serious contender for the title.

Stefanos Tsitsipas found life a little tougher in his outing but while the Greek survived the scare to move on in the main draw, fellow seeds Borna Coric and Lorenzo Sonego were knocked out.


NO VIDEO NASTY FOR NADAL

Ever the consummate professional, Nadal revealed he did his research online to find out more about second-round foe Mmoh, who had to get through three qualifying rounds just to make the main draw.

The world number 177 managed more aces than the 2009 champion but failed to create a break-point opportunity in a contest that lasted one hour and 47 minutes. Like the fan who disturbed play by shouting and making gestures towards Nadal as he served for the second set, Mmoh perhaps knew he was heading for the exit.

"I always have a lot of respect for every opponent. Yesterday, I was watching some videos of him on YouTube, trying to know a little bit more about him," Nadal said in his on-court interview after the match.

"Every day when you go onto the court, anything can happen - you can win, you can lose. You need to be ready to accept both things."

Norrie is next for the 34-year-old, the Briton defeating qualifier Roman Safiullin in four sets.


NO TIME TO CELEBRATE FOR MEDVEDEV

While Roberto Carballes Baena offered some resistance in the second set, Medvedev provided a further demonstration of his obvious talent with a 6-2 7-5 6-1 thrashing of the Spaniard.

The fourth seed from Russia was on court for one hour and 44 minutes but insisted afterwards his focus will now switch to his next opponent - Filip Krajinovic - rather than celebrating turning 25.

"There's no time to celebrate my birthday in a tournament. I got presents from my wife, but I'll soon look to my next match," he said. "If I'd have lost, I probably would go and celebrate, but I won so I can't now."

Krajinovic defeated Pablo Andujar 6-2 5-7 6-1 6-4 to progress. He was triumphant in the only previous meeting with Medvedev on the ATP Tour, winning in straight sets when they went up against each other at Indian Wells in 2019.


TSITSIPAS FIGHTS LIKE LION, LOPEZ EXTENDS SLAM STREAK

Tsitsipas was stretched to the limit but came out on top against Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 in a gruelling encounter.

Tsitsipas - who reached his maiden grand slam semi-final at the Australian Open two years ago - rallied from a set down to eventually see off Kokkinakis after four hours and 32 minutes.

Local hope Kokkinakis was playing his first major since the 2019 US Open and threatened a huge upset against the fifth seed.

"Great match towards the very end, and I fought like a lion," said Tsitsipas, who next meets Mikael Ymer. "I fought like a real warrior out there, and it was an amazing ending with lots of emotion and great spirits."

In his 75th consecutive grand slam, 39-year-old Feliciano Lopez came from two sets down to top 31st seed Sonego 5-7 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-4.

Fabio Fognini was involved in a thrilling five-setter against Salvatore Caruso, which ended with the pair engaging in a tense verbal exchange that led to security intervening.

Rafael Nadal sailed into the second round of the Australian Open on day two before backing "humble" fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz to have a "great career" following his maiden grand slam win.

Nadal cruised to a 6-3 6-4 6-1 victory over Laslo Djere on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday and will face Michael Mmoh in round two.

The Spanish great's compatriot Alcaraz won his first major match at Melbourne Park, seeing off fellow qualifier Botic Van de Zandschulp 6-1 6-4 6-4.

Murcia native Alcaraz has been billed by Nadal's uncle and former coach, Toni Nadal, as his nephew's "natural replacement" and the 20-time grand slam champion says the 17-year-old has all the ingredients to have a great career.

The second seed said: "He's very good. He's very young. He has everything to improve in the future with his age.

"He already is where he is, and he has a lot of great things on his game. I really believe that he will have a great future because he's a good guy, humble, hard worker. He has a lot of positive things."

Daniil Medvedev outclassed Vasek Pospisil 6-2 6-2 6-4, while Stefanos Tsitsipas eased past Gilles Simon 6-1 6-2 6-1, but fellow seed David Goffin lost a five-set marathon with Alexei Popyrin.

 

Nadal happy to 'survive' 

Nadal missed the ATP Cup before starting his quest for a record 21st grand slam title at Melbourne Park due to muscle tightness in his back.

He was simply happy to clear the first hurdle on the second day of the tournament.

"I needed to survive today and that's what I did. I just tried to be focused all the time, tried to get through," he said.

"For me personally, [I'm] happy to be through to the second round. I did I think a good job today. Straight sets, that's what I did."

 

Tennys disgruntled over 'joke' of preparation

American Tennys Sandgren was among over 70 players who were locked down in a hotel for a fortnight before the tournament due to positive COVID-19 test on their flight to Australia.

Sandgren made no secret of his displeasure over the restrictions he was forced to adhere to and let his feelings be known again after the two-time quarter-finalist lost 7-5 6-1 6-1 to Alex de Minaur on John Cain Arena.

He said: "How would you imagine prepping for a hot kind of muggy day, three-out-of-five sets against a player like that, that calibre, when you can't play tennis? You can't go outside? You can't. It's impossible. It's impossible.

"So I played last week's event [the Great Ocean Road Open], which probably wasn't a good idea. It wasn't hot, it was very mild conditions, and I played two hard three-set matches and I've never been more sore in my life after the second round, and I took two days off because I couldn't walk, and then I hit a couple times before today. I mean, it's just kind of a joke of preparation. But yeah. What are you going to do?"

 

Alcaraz escaping social media hype

Big things are expected of teenager Alcaraz and there was more hype over his potential after an impressive first-round win.

Alcaraz just wants to do his own thing and show why the likes of Rafael and Toni Nadal speak so highly of him.

"So I try to be focus on me, not on the social media, to play my game, play in front of my team, to my team, to me, my family," he said.

"I try to, yeah, to be a part of the social media and don't hear the comparison with Rafa. Yeah, I try to do this."

Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev produced ruthless performances as Russia cruised into the ATP Cup semi-finals.

Russia followed up their day-one win over Argentina with victory against Japan to ensure they will finish top of Group D.

Rublev got things rolling with an emphatic 6-1 6-3 win over Yoshihito Nishioka and Medvedev dispatched Kei Nishikori in a 6-2 6-4 triumph.

Those results meant the subsequent doubles match – which Japan won – would not be relevant.

"I am really happy for the team," said ATP Finals champion Medvedev, who has now won 12 matches in a row on the tour.

"Reaching the semi-finals is a big step – I am really happy that we made it in both singles. Both matches were straight sets, so really happy for the team and hopefully we can go further than that."

Italy, who had beaten Austria on the opening day, are also through after Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini earned wins in straight sets over France duo Benoit Paire and Gael Monfils on Wednesday.

France play Austria next but neither team can catch Italy in Group C.

Alexander Zverev won a thriller against Denis Shapovalov 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) to ensure Germany defeated Canada.

It was a first win at the ATP Cup for US Open runner up Zverev, who had a miserable tournament in 2020.

That sets up a day three contest for Germany against Novak Djokovic and Serbia where the winning team will progress to face Russia.

KYRGIOS AND WAWRINKA THROUGH

Nick Kyrgios – playing his first tournament for a year – made it two wins from two at the Murray River Open, defeating fellow Australian Harry Bourchier 6-2 7-6 (9-7).

First seed Stan Wawrinka survived a scare before prevailing against Mikhail Kukushkin to win 4-6 6-3 6-1 in just under two hours.

Wawrinka will take on Alex Bolt in the last 16, while Kyrgios should be tested against fourth seed Borna Coric.

At the Great Ocean Road Open, top seed David Goffin crashed out as world number 146 Carlos Alcaraz celebrated a shock 6-3 6-3 victory.

Karen Khachanov and Jannik Sinner were among the seeds who progressed, both winning without dropping a set.

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