De Minaur floors Medvedev to reach French Open quarters

Ian Chadband |

Australian star Alex De Minaur has sped sensationally into the quarter-finals of the French Open.
Australian star Alex De Minaur has sped sensationally into the quarter-finals of the French Open.

Dumbfounded Alex de Minaur believes dismantling one of the game’s powerhouses Daniil Medvedev to become the first Australian man to make the French Open quarter-finals in two decades is the biggest triumph of his career.

The slight Sydneysider with the big heart and electric speed was left barely able to credit that he had come from a set down on Monday to defeat Medvedev 4-6 6-2 6-1 6-3 and reach just his second quarter-final in a grand slam.

“It’s pretty extraordinary. I always thought that for me to play well on the clay I needed hot, lively conditions,” de Minaur, who’d never before been past the second round at Roland Garros, said.

“But this whole tournament has proven otherwise, right? It’s been a complete shock to the system, to everything I ever believed in.”

The moment he became the first Aussie man to make the last-eight at the French Open since his idol, mentor and Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt in 2004, de Minaur roared towards his player’s box: “I love the clay. I love it here. I can’t get enough”.

Next up, he’ll face Alexander Zverev on Wednesday, with the even more encouraging news for de Minaur that the German Olympic champ didn’t seal his four-hour 11-minute, 4-6 6-1 5-7 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 win over Holger Rune until 1.40am on Tuesday morning.

De Minaur delighted the crowd by telling them in French of his amazement that in the tactical, high-speed game of tennis chess with fifth seed Medvedev, he was able to deliver checkmate in four sets.

It was a major breakthrough for the indefatigable world No.11 who had lost all six of his previous grand slam matches against top-five players. 

Medvedev had beaten him in last year’s US Open and held a 6-2 head-to-head lead – but on the clay the Russian has never enjoyed, de Minaur proved too attacking, too fast and too inventive.

De Minaur beats Medvedev
Russia’s Daniil Medvedev seemed dispirited by the Australian’s brilliant performance. (AP PHOTO)

“He played probably the best match we played,” acknowledged the 2021 US Open champ. 

“I didn’t see him play like this before.”

Indeed, de Minaur could hardly credit how he reduced the man who’s featured in six grand slam finals to frustration as he constantly pierced his ‘Octopus’ defence with 51 searing winners.

He turned the match around after Medvedev initially had him on the back foot, varying the pace and trajectory on his groundstrokes as a rhythm-less de Minaur dished up 19 unforced errors in the opening set. 

From then on, the Sydneysider was commanding, and though the Russian dismissed the influence of a mid-second-set medical timeout when treated for a blistered foot, he was certainly outplayed from the point he returned to court.

The Australian won seven straight games with tennis full of variety, including artful lobs and drop shots that had Medvedev increasingly floundering.

De Minaur
Alex de Minaur showed off his explosive speed in a memorable win over Daniil Medvedev. (AP PHOTO)

De Minaur raced into a 3-0 lead in the third set, cheered in the stands by Thanasi Kokkinakis as well as the young fan he said had “given him life” with his passionate support during his previous victory over Jan-Lennard Struff.

Having lost 11 of the previous 12 games, Medvedev finally got back on the board at the start of the fourth, breaking de Minaur and feeling as if he could rally – but the Aussie kept attacking, with one thunderous inside-out forehand earning him the break for a decisive 5-3 lead.

“I’m pretty happy, not going to lie,” beamed de Minaur, whose only previous major quarter-final was at Flushing Meadows in 2020 when he was beaten by Dominic Thiem.

“It was a great match today. Fought until the end. 

“Managed to beat a quality opponent in a grand slam fourth-round, which is kind of the goals I’ve been setting. I’m very proud of myself.”

AAP