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Take two: Medvedev, Auger-Aliassime to meet again

  • Ravi Ubha

Net rushers facing high seeds in the fourth round at the Australian Open have history. 

Mischa Zverev served and volleyed an incredible 119 times on the way to upsetting then world No.1 Andy Murray in four sets in 2017. 

MORE: All the scores from Day 8 at AO 2022

Maxime Cressy sought the same result against Daniil Medvedev on Monday, but the Russian avoided Murray's fate by defeating the French-born American and his relentless attacking game 6-2 7-6(4) 6-7(4) 7-5 at Margaret Court Arena. 

The second seed faced a stern test, mind you, not only dropping a set but saving a set point – the lone break point he faced – in the second. Cressy made 135 net approaches. 

MORE: AO 2022 men's singles draw

Chances came and went in the fourth for a frustrated Medvedev before he finally got his reward on his ninth break-point attempt of the set. He comfortably served the match out at Margaret Court Arena.  

"It was not easy," Medvedev said in his on-court interview. "The scoreline, only the first set I managed to sprint in front of him and kind of win it easy. 

"All the other sets were a tough fight. If I wouldn't win the fourth one, I'd probably be in a tough mental shape because I had so many break points. I just wanted to make one." 

Medvedev needed a medical timeout in the third set for what appeared to be a hip injury, requesting pain killers, as temperatures topped 30 degrees Celsius in Melbourne again.  

It's something to keep an eye on in his upcoming quarterfinal duel against Felix Auger-Aliassime, who rallied past AO 2018 finalist Marin Cilic 2-6 7-6(7) 6-2 7-6(4) at John Cain Arena.

The pair met in last year's US Open semifinals, which the Russian won in straight sets.

Cressy's style of throwback tennis is hardly seen nowadays, but that hasn't stopped the UCLA product from believing he can reach the pinnacle of the game. The 24-year-old said his goal is to win majors and reach No.1 in the world. 

He has a while to go, yet his current ranking of 70 sits 100 places better than this time last year. Cressy's build-up to Australian Open 2022 included reaching his first final in Melbourne, where he was defeated by Rafael Nadal. 

Cressy's tactics were difficult for Medvedev to overcome

Seeking a first top-10 scalp, Cressy didn't get the start he hoped for. A forehand volley error gifted Medvedev a 3-1 advantage, leading to a largely routine opener. 

Medvedev – two rounds after a thoroughly entertaining victory over Nick Kyrgios – implored the fans to get involved, and they did when he repelled a smash, then finished with a forehand passing drive at 1-2 in the second. 

A starfish jump, bunted winner from Medvedev proved to be another crowd-pleaser, one of his 60 total winners combined with only 11 unforced errors. 

Cressy continued to hold in tight games and edged ahead 6-5. He began the 12th game with a rocketed backhand return to increase the pressure on Medvedev.

It contributed to the set point, which was well saved. Cressy's good forehand approach was matched by Medvedev, who subsequently raced forward to get to a forehand volley and reply with a winner. 

Medvedev's momentum carried him in the ensuing tiebreak, before the medical timeout at 3-2 in the third. Medvedev grimaced while being treated laying face-down on a towel, but afterward, he didn’t seem overly concerned. 

"When you have a day off, even if something hurts a little bit, you take a pain killer and go for the match," said Medvedev. 

Cressy received a medical timeout of his own at 4-5 for a seemingly lower back problem, later tugging at his hamstring at 5-5. A time violation warning followed, minutes after an audible obscenity caution. Later in the match, he was docked a first serve for another time violation. 

Medvedev's play stayed steady and frustrated his rival

He overturned a mini-break deficit in the third-set tiebreak, crucially ripping a forehand return for 5-4. 

Medvedev wasn't a happy camper as the match lingered, and more so when Cressy continued to survive break points in three different games in the fourth.  

He looked skyward as Cressy thwarted break points with second-serves on the line and acrobatic volleying – similar to his performance against Pablo Carreno Busta at the US Open.

But at 5-5, Medvedev's running forehand down the line ended his resistance. 

Auger-Aliassime has lost all three of his matches against Medvedev, including at the ATP Cup this year and in last year's US Open semifinals, although he also trailed Cilic 3-0 in their duels. 

It has turned out to be a fruitful fortnight for the Canadian men. 

With Auger-Aliassime's pal Denis Shapovalov into the last eight – Shapovalov meets Nadal on Tuesday – Canada boasts two Grand Slam men's quarterfinalists at a major for the first time. 

Both have had to do it the hard way. 

In Auger-Aliassime's case, he went five sets against Emil Ruusuvuori and was pushed to four hours by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his first two rounds. 

Auger-Aliassime holding off 2018 runner-up Cilic – coming off a win over fifth seed Andrey Rublev – in the second set proved key.

In his first four service games of the set, the ninth seed trailed 0-30 twice and was taken to 30-all on the two other occasions. 

Cilic survived three set points at 4-5 and earned a set point in the tiebreak, though had no chance as his rival delivered an ace. Auger-Aliassime then converted on his fifth set point.

His serve took over. 

In the final two frames, Auger-Aliassime struck 12 of his 22 aces and lost two points behind his first serve. 

Auger-Aliassime's serve was impenetrable the longer the match went

"The second was tight," said Auger-Aliassime at his now favoured arena. 

"It could have gone either way, 9-7 in the tiebreak. Of course I had chances before, but for sure that was a crucial turnaround. 

"You can't afford to go two sets to love (down), it would have been tough. In the third I started feeling better and better."