Fourth seed, Daniil Medvedev attempts to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open for the second straight year when he takes on home favourite, Alexei Popyrin on Saturday.
Daniil Medvedev vs Alexei Popyrin Match Info
Date: Saturday January 25
Tournament: Australian Open R3
Court: Rod Laver Arena
Time: 8.30pm local time (9.30am GMT)
Daniil Medvedev vs Alexei Popyrin Head-to-Head
2019 | Wimbledon R2: Medvedev bt. Popyrin 6-7 6-1 6-4 6-4
Daniil Medvedev vs Alexei Popyrin Match Preview
Medvedev reached the fourth round in Melbourne for the first time last year, and took a set off Novak Djokovic in a four-set defeat, but we had no idea of the explosion that was to come later in the year.
The man would become a winning machine, reaching six successive finals between August and October, and ending the year with four titles. He claimed back-to-back Masters 1000 crowns in Cincinnati and Shanghai- his first titles at that level, and won other trophies in Sofia and St. Petersburg. Medvedev also reached his maiden Grand Slam final, pushing Rafael Nadal to five sets in an epic US Open title match.
The Russian finished a sensational season at No. 5 in the world, establishing himself firmly in the top echelon of the men’s game.
Medvedev has made a solid start to 2020 as he aims to consolidate on his efforts from the previous season. He went 4-1 in singles matches at the ATP Cup, his only defeat coming in a tough three-setter against Novak Djokovic, while he’s put together two good wins in Melbourne. He needed four sets to get past last year’s quarter-finalist, Frances Tiafoe in a tough opening match, while he moved past Pedro Martinez 7-5 6-1 6-3 to book his spot in the third round.
Spanish qualifier, Martinez competed well in the first set, fighting back from a break down and reaching 5-5, but Medvedev was always in control, and once he wrapped up the opening set, he ran away with the rest of the match. The only other problem was a nosebleed late in the second set, but it did not have any damaging effects, as the Russian sprinted to victory in just over two hours.
“I think there are still some things to improve. I think I could be more aggressive [in a] few moments of the match,” Medvedev said. “Of course, when you win three sets, you don’t want to discuss your level too much. Happy with the win, happy with the win in three sets without a tie-break finally.”
The No. 4 seed will next take on Popyrin, who is into the third round in Melbourne for the second straight season.
“I played him in Wimbledon last year and it was a really tough match, exhausting one. A really close one,” Medvedev said. “I managed to win it, but last Australian Open, we already saw how he can play in Grand Slams in front of the home crowd.”
Popyrin took down top-ten opposition in reaching the third round last season, beating Dominic Thiem in the second round (albeit via retirement), and he’ll be looking to do that same on Saturday night when he faces Medvedev.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot of experience [from] last year. I’m not kind of starstruck by being in the third round anymore,” said Popyrin, who fell to Lucas Pouille in five sets in the third round last year. “I wouldn’t say [I] got used to it, but I’m more self-centered and more focussed on the third round.”
The 20-year-old did not quite build on that Melbourne run, making just one quarter final all season, in Atlanta. He also notably reached the third round of the US Open, beating Federico Delbonis and Mikhail Kukushkin before falling to Matteo Berrettini. The Next Gen player was 11-19 at tour-level last season, but he did enough to score his first top-100 finish, ending at 97th after starting off at 147th in January. He reached a career-high 87th after making the quarters in Atlanta.
The Australian began his 2020 season in Doha, where he failed to get through the qualifying rounds; that was followed by a first-round defeat to Laslo Djere in Adelaide, but he finally got off the mark in Melbourne, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (via retirement) in the first round, before taking down Spaniard, Jaume Munar 6-2 7-6 6-2 in the second round.
Can he produce the big upset over Daniil Medvedev on Saturday night?
“[I have] nothing to lose at all,” Popyrin said. “He’s one of the best players in the world. It’s going to be a great challenge for me. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Daniil Medvedev vs Alexei Popyrin Match Prediction
Medvedev and Popyrin met once before- at Wimbledon last year- with Medvedev recovering from the loss of the first set to win in four. Backed by the night crowd in Melbourne, the Australian possesses the ability to take a set off his higher-ranked opponent on Saturday, especially if he serves very well, but as has been the case many times over the last six months, Medvedev’s maddening consistency should ultimately prove too good for the young Aussie.