The men’s draw at the Australian Open is set for a nail-biting clash between compatriot contenders this week, as Russia’s top two players, Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev, meet each other in the quarterfinals in Melbourne.
The duo who led their country to their first ATP Cup title earlier this month are both in the final eight of the tournament for the first time, and their pairing against each other means that Russia is guaranteed one semifinal entrant.
On Monday, fourth seed Medvedev sent home Mackenzie McDonald with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 victory that extended his winning streak to 18 matches.
Seventh seed Rublev followed Medvedev onto the Margaret Court Arena to earn a quick win courtesy of the retirement of Norwegian Casper Ruud, who had lost the opening two sets 6-2, 7-6.
“At least one of us [Russian players] will be in the semis,” Rublev said in his post-match interview. “At least that’s the good news.
“But it’s going to be a tough match. I mean, last time he beat me in the quarters in the US Open [in 2020].
“Now we’re again in the quarters… so we’ll see what’s going to happen. I hope we can show a great fight and great level.”
With qualifier Aslan Karatsev facing Bulgaria’s 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 a long history of playing against each other, dating back to junior tournaments. Their ATP record accounts for just three matches, with Medvedev winning all of them.
The world number four defeated Rublev twice in the quarterfinal of the ATP Masters in Cincinnati in 2019, and beat him at the same stage in the St. Petersburg Open.
Medvedev again beat his younger compatriot in New York last year, confirming his status as the strongest Russian player by ranking.
That record means Medvedev will be the favorite against an opponent who has never passed the quarterfinal barrier at a Grand Slam.
Medvedev, conversely, has the experience of playing in the final of a major event, reaching the US Open decider in 2019, when he was beaten by Rafael Nadal.
The 24-year-old also has a slight advantage over Rublev in terms of ATP titles taken during their professional career, winning nine trophies against his rival’s seven.
Medvedev, who is unbeaten since November, produced a stunning performance at the end of last season in the 2020 ATP Finals, beating Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem on his way to glory.
He admitted that a friendship will be temporarily put aside in the fight for a spot in the semifinal.
“It’s our job – of course during the match we’re going to try to win, fight for our best,” he added.
“You never know. Sometimes you can maybe … argue on the court or something because we’re competitors. After the match, we are great friends.”