When Daniil Medvedev led by a set and 4-1 on Thursday night, he looked to be in a rush for a dinner reservation in Melbourne to celebrate his 25th birthday. For a short time in the second set at the Australian Open, Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena had other ideas.
The fourth-seeded Russian grew increasingly frustrated by the resilience of Carballes Baena, but he eventually extended his winning streak to 16 matches unbeaten after a 6-2, 7-5, 6-1 win over one hour and 44 minutes on John Cain Arena.
“I have the momentum and I feel like I can do a lot things,” said Medvedev, who hit 35 winners, including 13 aces. “I hope I can keep it up. So far it’s working and I hope it doesn’t stop. There’s no time to celebrate my birthday in a tournament. I got presents from my wife, but I’ll soon look to my next match.”
Medvedev began his winning streak in November, picking up the Rolex Paris Masters (d. Zverev) and Nitto ATP Finals (d. Thiem) titles. He went a perfect 4-0 last week to help Russia to the ATP Cup crown (d. Italy) and defeated Vasek Pospisil of Canada in the Australian Open first round on Tuesday.
Medvedev will next look book his place in the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the third consecutive year with victory over Serbian No. 28 seed Filip Krajinovic on Saturday. Krajinovic beat Pablo Andujar of Spain 6-2, 5-7, 7-1, 6-4 in the second round.
Carballes Baena broke serve for a 2-1 advantage in the first set, which provoked Medvedev into action. Such was the Russian’s focus, he won 20 of the next 22 points and, at the end of the set asked, whether the net was a fraction too high. It was!
Returning four metres behind the baseline, Medvedev came within one point of a 5-2 lead in the second set. But Carballes Baena kept fighting and broke in the seventh game en route to levelling at 4-4. Medvedev soon regrouped and capitalised on errors by striking two forehand winners to break at 6-5.
World No. 99 Carballes Baena missed a high smash at 1-2, 15/30, which sealed his fate in the third set. Medvedev rifled back a backhand return and stormed in for a winner to clinch the decisive break. He didn’t look back and completed the final game with a forehand winner and three aces.