MELBOURNE (AFP) – Former Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka turned back the clock in a vintage performance to stun world number four Daniil Medvedev yesterday and race into the Australian Open quarter-finals.
The popular Swiss star, who beat Rafael Nadal in the 2014 decider, dug deep to come from behind in five intense sets and win 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2.
It set up a last-eight clash with either Russian 17th seed Andrey Rublev or German seventh seed Alexander Zverev.
“Another amazing match,” said Wawrinka, who is into his 18th Grand Slam quarter-final, behind only Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray among active players.
“The level was super-high and atmosphere is so special here in Australia.
“It’s amazing to still be playing and at that level. I’m really happy with what I’m doing on the court.”
Three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka has not won a title since pocketing the 16th of his career on the Geneva clay in 2017, with two bouts of surgery on his left knee pushing him to the brink of retirement.
A lengthy absence from the tour meant his world ranking plunged, but he has climbed back to world number 15 after runs last year to the last eight at Roland Garros and the US Open.
Beating Medvedev brought up another milestone in Wawrinka’s illustrious career – it was his 300th Tour-level win.
It was classic Wawrinka in the first set, with the 34-year-old playing some of his best tennis in a long time.
He broke to go 3-1 in front and then again to take the set in 32 minutes of precision and power, with the Russian struggling to match him around the court.
But Medvedev came roaring back to break and take a 3-1 lead in the second set as Wawrinka lost his range, breaking again to take the set in emphatic fashion.
The 23-year-old built on his advantage early in the third set, with his serve making life hard for Wawrinka who struggled to create chances and had trouble applying the finishing touch at the net.
In contrast, Medvedev was hitting winners and broke for 4-3 before sealing the set.
They traded blows in a tight fourth set, desperately arm-wrestling for the edge with a tiebreaker needed and Wawrinka showing his experience to prevail and send it to a deciding set, where the writing was on the wall.
Medvedev had played five career five-setters and lost them all, while veteran Wawrinka had 50 under his belt and a 28-22 record.
He turned the screws, breaking the Russian’s opening service game then staving off three break points to go 3-1 in front, with no way back for the fourth seed.