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Updated January 19th, 2024 at 10:10 IST

Overnight success: Medvedev finishes off 2nd-round match at 3:39 a.m. at Australian Open

If he wasn’t on the court competing, Daniil Medvedev doubted anything would have kept him at Rod Laver Arena until almost 4 in the morning.

Reported by: Associated Press Television News
Daniil Medvedev in action during US Open
Daniil Medvedev in action during US Open | Image:AP
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If he wasn’t on the court competing, Daniil Medvedev doubted anything would have kept him at Rod Laver Arena until almost 4 in the morning.

The third-seeded Medvedev lost the first two sets of his second-round Australian Open match against No. 53-ranked Emil Ruusuvuori before coming back to win 3-6, 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-0 in 4 hours, 23 minutes in the latest finish of the week.

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They’d walked onto Rod Laver Arena to start hitting at 11:07 p.m. Thursday after women’s No. 3 Elena Rybakina lost the longest tiebreaker ever in a women’s Grand Slam event, 22-20 to Anna Blinkova.

The match ended at 3:39 a.m. Friday, and Medvedev was still there signing autographs as the clock ticked closer to 4.

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The long tiebreaker and the uncertainty over the starting time, he said, meant his eating and warming up routines were thrown out of kilter.

“When I went on court I was a little exhausted already,” Medvedev, a two-time Australian Open finalist, explained to the scattering of fans still in the arena well after the last trams had finished running for Day 5.

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It won’t go down as a classic, but still had plenty of drama.

Medvedev needed a medical timeout for blisters on his right foot after the second set, and he spiked his racket into the court after missing a chance to break Ruusuvuori’s serve late in the fourth.

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Then he had trouble tying the laces of his right shoe right before the deciding fifth set.

Looking at the clock, he was frank with the people who’d stayed there until a couple of hours before the sun was due to rise.

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“Honestly guys, I would not be here,” Medvedev said in an on-court interview. “Thanks for staying. If I would be a tennis fan and I would come, at 1 a.m. I would be like ‘OK, let’s go home. We’re going to catch the end of the match on the TV.’”

It was the latest finish so far this year, but not close to the tournament record. Andy Murray finished off Thanasi Kokkinakis just after 4 a.m. last year in a second-round match that lasted 5 hours, 45 minutes.

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And that was only good enough for second place on the all-time list. The latest-finishing match in Grand Slam history ended with Lleyton Hewitt beating Marcos Baghdatis at 4:34 a.m. in 2008.

After player complaints last year, Australian Open organizers decided to extend the tournament by adding a 15th day and starting on a Sunday for the first time.

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The first round was split over three days, and no matches went past 2 a.m.

But the first day of the second round was entirely different story, with two early men’s matches going to a decisive tiebreaker after five sets and top-ranked Iga Swiatek’s opener against Danielle Collins going for almost 3 1/4 hours.

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And so Day 5 of the Australian Open finished on a Friday, anyway.

Medvedev said he’d have to warm down, get some physiotherapy and try to get to sleep by 6:30 a.m. and wake up some time after midday to start preparing for his third-round match against Felix Auger-Aliassime.

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Ruusuvurori, a 24-year-old from Finland who was aiming to reach the third round for the first time at a major, started well.

He broke the 2021 U.S. Open champion’s serve in the second game and took the first set in 42 minutes. It took almost twice that long to take the second set in a tiebreaker for a 2-0 lead.

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After a medical timeout, Medvedev started his comeback. He broke for a 2-1 lead and, after an exchange of breaks, he took the third set in 49 minutes.

He also broke to open the fourth. But Ruusuvurori broke back, converting with a leaping overhead, to get back on serve and had Medvedev screaming toward his support team in the stands.

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He held for a 5-4 lead with a couple of forehand passing shots, and Medvedev hurled his racket into the court before he walked to the chairs for the changeover. It earned him a warning from the chair umpire.
At deuce in the next game, Ruusuvuori was two points from winning the match at 2:56 a.m.

But he stepped in to a service return and missed a forehand wide down the line, and then sent a forehand long.

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After all that, the end came relatively quickly.

Medvedev took a 4-0 lead in the tiebreaker, seizing momentum.

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After an almost eight-minute break between the fourth and fifth sets, Medvedev’s experience kicked in and Ruusuvuori’s legs gave out.

The 30-minute deciding set was only prolonged by Ruusuvuori taking a medical timeout for treatment on his sore right shoulder.

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“The only two matches I’ve come back from two sets to love down was on this court,” Medvedev said.

Going into the match he was 4-10 in five-setters, including a loss to Rafael Nadal in the 2022 final after he’d taken the first two sets.

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“This one,” he said, “is going to for sure stay in my memory.”

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Published January 19th, 2024 at 10:10 IST

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