Daniil Medvedev faced a hostile crowd and a whole series of outbursts and tricks from Nick Kyrgios, yet remained calm long enough to reach the third round at the Australian Open.
Medvedev kept his composure, made a quick trip to the dressing room after losing the third set and rebounded to go 7-6 (1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-6 in a rowdy Rod Laver Arena on Thursday 6-2 to win.
And it was that steely determination that left Kyrgios stumped in the second set, as he chatted during a break with Australian wheelchair tennis legend Dylan Alcott, who was providing on-court commentary for Nine.
“Yeah, we did[talk],” Alcott told Jim Courier on the show. “He’s on his feet and smiling at me. He’s right in the middle.
“But he said it’s so hard to play this guy because if he doesn’t make his first serve every time, the guy is like a robot, not missing a shot.
“And it’s true. Medvedev is absolutely amazing.
“He also said that he wants to go for the donkey drop every time. I said, ‘Do it. Why not? When you’re so far behind.”
Courier joked with Alcott that the advice was about on-court coaching, which is illegal in tennis.
Despite all the extra support from the crowd, the 115th Kyrgios was only able to snag a set from the seed’s No. 2, who looked more composed after a pause to change clothes.
During the post-match TV interview with ex-champ Courier, Medvedev was asked how he managed to stay so tied despite the distractions.
“That’s the only choice when you get booed between the first and second serve,” he said, drawing some boos from the crowd.
Kyrgios usually enjoys playing at John Cain Arena, known locally as People’s Court, because fans come in with ground passes and the chanting and chanting can get wild.
He managed to turn the fully paid stadium pitch into something more akin to a football stadium.
In the seventh game of the third set, Kyrgios had two break point chances when he blasted a body-bound backhand away from Medvedev and then launched into a circular run behind the baseline to celebrate as if he’d scored.
As he converted the break, he took turns dancing and getting the crowd going. Medvedev lowered the volume with two breaks of serve in the fourth set to beat the talented but unpredictable Kyrgios for the first time in three tries. He served 31 aces to 17 for the Aussie, converting four of his 11 break point chances while saving seven of nine on his own serve.
Medvedev later said he may have misheard the boos and that Kyrgios supporters are mimicking the “siiiuuu” sound football fans yell when Cristiano Ronaldo scores goals.
“But they remain fun games after that because in the end, yes, we put on a great show for the audience,” he said. “More likely Nick, because he’s a great entertainer.
“I think it was a great match to watch. I’ve already received a lot of messages, not just congratulations as usual, but like ‘Wow, what a match!’”
Medvedev was runner-up last year but avenged that defeat by beating Novak Djokovic in the US Open final.
He’s practically No. 1 now anyway, as Djokovic was expelled on the eve of the tournament for failing to comply with Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
Another contender in his half of the draw had a routine run as fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Sebastian Baez 7-6 (1) 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-4.
Other men’s second round winners included Andrey Rublev No. 5, Roberto Bautista Agut No. 15, Taylor Fritz No. 20, 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic and Alex de Minaur No. 32. Australian wildcard entrant Chris O’Connell upset 13th seed Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (6) 6-4 6-4.
Five-time runner-up Andy Murray only lasted two laps. Two days after winning his first match at the Australian Open in five years, the former No. 1 lost to 120th-ranked Taro Daniel 6-4 6-4 6-4.