The men’s draw at the Australian Open faces an exciting duel between compatriots this week as Russia’s two best players, Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev, meet in the quarter-finals in Melbourne.
The duo, who led their country to their first ATP Cup title earlier this month, are in the tournament’s first knockout round. By pairing against each other, Russia is guaranteed a semi-final participant.
On Monday, Medvedev sent Mackenzie McDonald home in fourth place with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 win that extended his winning streak to 18 games.
Seventh seed Rublev followed Medvedev to Margaret Court Arena to take a quick win thanks to the resignation of Norwegian Casper Ruud, who lost the first two sets 6-2, 7-6.
“At least one of us [Russian players] will be in the semi-finals, ”said Rublev in his post-game interview. “At least that’s the good news.
“But it’s going to be a tough game. I mean, the last time he beat me in the US Open quarters [in 2020].
“Now we’re back in the quarters … so we’ll see what will happen. I hope we can have a great fight and a great level.”
With qualifier Aslan Karatsev against Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the top half of the draw, Russia has three representatives in the last eight at the same Grand Slam for the first time in the Open Era.
Rublev and Medvedev have long played against each other and go back to junior tournaments. Her ATP record spans just three games, with Medvedev winning all of them.
The number four in the world defeated Rublev twice in the quarter-finals of the ATP Masters in Cincinnati in 2019 and beat him at the same time at the St. Petersburg Open.
Medvedev beat his younger compatriot again last year in New York and confirmed his status as the strongest Russian player by ranking.
This record means that Medvedev will be the favorite against an opponent who has never crossed the quarter-finals in a Grand Slam.
Conversely, Medvedev has the experience of playing in the final of a major event and making the decision of the US Open in 2019 when he was beaten by Rafael Nadal.
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The 24-year-old also has a slight advantage over Rublev in terms of ATP titles he has earned during his professional career. He won nine trophies against his rival’s seven.
Medvedev, who has been unbeaten since November, showed an impressive performance in the 2020 ATP final at the end of last season, beating Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem on his way to stardom.
He admitted that a friendship will be temporarily suspended in the battle for a place in the semifinals.
“It’s our job – of course during the game we will try to win and fight for our best,” he added.
“You never know. Sometimes you might … argue on the pitch or something because we’re rivals. After the game we’re good friends.”
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