Medvedev battles past Medjedovic, Osaka ousted at Italian Open

Tokyo, 14 May, /AJMEDIA/

Daniil Medvedev continued his Rome title defence with Monday’s hard-fought 7-6 (7/5), 2-6, 7-5 win over qualifier Hamad Medjedovic as the men’s tournament was left wide open by big-name exits, the latest being fourth seed Andrey Rublev.

Russian Medvedev will face Tommy Paul in the last 16 at the Foro Italico on Tuesday after battling past Next Gen champion Medjedovic in a gruelling clash of big hitters.

The second seed has a great opportunity to win his first tournament of the year but will be drained by a match which pushed three hours in length and suggested that 20-year-old Medjedovic is a far superior player than his world ranking of 121.

Rome is missing the world’s top three men following Novak Djokovic’s third-round elimination on Saturday, with Italian world number two Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz both withdrawing ahead of the event.

And Russian Rublev, fresh from claiming the Madrid title, suffered a shock third-round defeat by French qualifier Alexandre Muller, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Sixth seed and reigning Monte Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas is still in the fray after beating Briton Cameron Norrie in straight sets 6-2, 7-6 (7/1) but is disappointed at the number of big names out of the tournament.

“The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured,” Tsitsipas told reporters.

“You’ve got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back to back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.”

Another contender is Rafael Nadal’s vanquisher and seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz, who faces Sebastian Baez on Tuesday and could be Medvedev’s quarter-final opponent.

Iga Swiatek saw off Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 to set up a quarter-final clash with Madison Keys, who beat Sorana Cirstea despite her match being interrupted by climate activists.

World number one Swiatek is yet to drop a set and is favourite for a third Rome crown before she begins her French Open title defence later this month.

The three-time Roland Garros champion arrived in the Italian capital off the back of a thrilling triumph in Madrid, her third WTA 1000 title of the season after also winning at Indian Wells and Doha.

But the 22-year-old didn’t have it all her own way against former world number one Kerber, a three-time former Grand Slam champion who at 331st was the lowest-ranked player ever to reach the last 16 in this tournament.

“I’m a perfectionist but it’s impossible to play perfect tennis, so you always have to be humble and not take anything for granted,” said Swiatek.

“The pressure is there for sure but this year has been pretty good for me. I started the season well so I don’t feel like I have to chase anything.”

Swiatek will face Keys whose 6-2, 6-1 win was suspended for half an hour by a court invasion from activists from Ultima Generazione (Last Generation).

Wearing orange vests, protestors threw a liquid and confetti onto the Pietrangeli court, where Keys was playing, and court 12 where a men’s doubles match was taking place.

“Obviously it’s not the greatest feeling when you’re on court, your first reaction is kind of your own safety,” said Keys.

Naomi Osaka’s run was ended by China’s Zheng Qinwen who breezed past her four-time Grand Slam winning opponent 6-2, 6-4 to set up a last-eight clash with third seed Coco Gauff.

Later Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka will face Elina Svitolina for the first time since their handshake row at last year’s French Open.

Belarusian second seed Sabalenka was accused by Ukraine’s Svitolina of inflaming tensions surrounding the Russia-Ukraine war after the Roland Garros quarter-final between the pair in 2023.

Sabalenka waited at the net for a handshake after beating Svitolina, even though Svitolina had already insisted she was not going to offer one, as all Ukraine players refused to shake hands with Russian and Belarusian rivals in protest at the ongoing war.

© 2024 AFP

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