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De Minaur floors Medvedev to reach French Open quarters

Highlights from de Minaur's French Open run – so far

Source: Roland Garros

Dumbfounded Alex de Minaur says dismantling one of tennis’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 barely able to credit that he had come from a set down on Monday (local time) 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, if you ask me. I always thought that for me to play well on the clay I needed hot, lively conditions,” said de Minaur, who’s never before been past the second round at Roland Garros.

“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 since his idol, mentor and Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt in 2004, de Minaur just roared towards his player’s box: “I love the clay! I love it here! I can’t get enough!”

Maybe he really can’t. Next he will face either Olympic champ Alexander Zverev or Holger Rune in the last eight, believing anything’s possible.

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

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.

Fifth-seed Medvedev had beaten him in last year’s US Open and held a 6-2 head-to-head superiority. But, on the clay the Russian has never enjoyed, de Minaur this time proved too attacking, too fast and too inventive.

“He played probably the best match we played,” said the former US Open champ, impressed by de Minaur’s serving in particular.

“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.

The sun came out for the first time this tournament and the sunshine boy turned up too in the still heavy conditions, turning the match around after Medvedev initially had him on the back foot, varying the pace and height on his groundstrokes as a rhythm-less de Minaur dished up 19 unforced errors in the opening set.

From then on, though, 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, as his game flowered, full of variety, including artful lobs and drop shots that had Medvedev increasingly floundering and looking a mite dispirited.

Daniil Medvedev takes a break for medic assistance. Photo: Getty

De Minaur raced into a 3-0 lead in the third set, cheered in the stands by Thanasi Kokkinakis as well as the young lad he said had given him life with his passionate support during his previous victory over Jan-Lennard Struff, and the Russian couldn’t break out of his defensive shell.

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 final key break for a decisive 5-3 lead.

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

“It was a great match today.

“Fought ’til 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

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