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Medvedev, Rublev make history for Russia, Barty also progresses

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Sydney (dpa) – Russia has three men in a grand slam fourth round for the first time after Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev won in contrasting style on Saturday at the Australian Open

Fourth-seed Medvedev extended his winning streak to 17 matches with a hard-earned 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-0 success over Serbian Filip Krajinovic during which his coach stormed out of the arena.

Rublev had far less trouble in a 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 success over Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez.

Reigning ATP Finals champion Medvedev and Roublev won the ATP Cup last weekend at Melbourne Park and now join compatriot Azlan Karazev in the last 16 after the qualifier had the previous day upset eighth-seed Diego Schwartzman.

It could have even been four Russians in the fourth round but Karen Khachanov lost 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5) against ninth-seed Matteo Berrettini.

The Italian Berrettini was bothered by what appeared to be an abdominal injury late in the third set but managed to see out the match after trailing 5-3 in the third tie-break.

On the women’s side, world number one Ash Barty fought from 2-0 down in the first set and a 4-2 deficit in the second to oust Russia’s 29 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, 6-2, 6-4.

Fancied fifth seed Elina Svitolina won the last nine games to beat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-4, 6-0 but former number one Karolina Pliskova was eliminated by fellow Czech Karolina Muchova, 7-5, 7-5.

“We used to play when we were kids so I’ve known her from a young age and always expect a big battle and she’s a fighter,” Svitolina said.

Muchova had mixed feelings beating her “good friend” Pliskova but also said that “I’m definitely happy that I made it through in two sets.”

Pliskova was docked a point after destroying a second racquet during her defeat, and Medvedev was also hot-tempered in his roller-coaster match against Krajinovic.

He gave his box stunning verbal sprays in Russian, French and English during the fourth set, and coach Gilles Cervara eventually picked up his bag and left before Medvedev regained his composure and won a five-setter for the first time.

Former US Open finalist Medvedev later played down the incident, saying: “He said just before leaving that he was sure that I was going to win the match but that he’s going to leave me alone to be more calm.

“So I won’t tell more because that was a good thing to do and luckily I won.”

Medvedev next faces American Mackenzie McDonald who matched his Grand Slam best, beating Lloyd Harris 7-6,(9-7), 6-1, 6-4.

Rublev’s opponent in the last 16 is Norway’s Casper Ruud who defeated Radu Albot of Moldova, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas also progressed with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 thrashing of Sweden’s Mikael Ymer.

On the women’s side, Barty’s next opponent is American Shelby Rogers who beat Estonian Anett Kontaveit, 6-4, 6-3.

Svitolina faces Jessica Pegula next after the unseeded American crushed Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-1.

And Muchova will face off against Belgium’s Elise Mertens, who continued her winning start to 2021 with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over 11th-seeded Belinda Bencic.

American Jennifer Brady meanwhile ended the run of Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan 6-1, 6-3.

Croatian Donna Vekic ran a dramatic comeback to beat Kaia Kanepi 5-7, 7-6, (7-2), 6-4 in a marathon match stretching two hours and 36 minutes.

Vekic trailed Kanepi – the second-round victor against defending champion Sofia Kenin – a set and 3-0 before mounting her fightback. 

The day’s matches were played without spectators, as will be the case for all games over the next four days, following a hard lockdown that kicked in at midnight in the state of Victoria to stem an outbreak of a highly contagious British strain of the novel coronavirus.

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