As the fourth-set tiebreaker ended, Stan Wawrinka tapped his right temple with his index finger, his signature celebration. He probably figured he had his Australian Open opponent right where he wanted him.
Heading to a fifth set.
Wawrinka came back to beat U.S. Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 Monday to reach the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park, where he won the 2014 championship.
This was Wawrinka’s 51st career five-setter, which is tied for the sixth-most on record in men’s tennis history, and his 29th such victory. The No. 4-seeded Medvedev, meanwhile? He is now 0-6 when going the distance.
“Of course,” Medvedev said, “feels not good to never win one.”
Consider this a win for age and experience.
“I still have only — I don’t know how many, but not many years left,” Wawrinka said. “I want to do the maximum with it.”
Wawrinka is 34, Medvedev 23. Wawrinka owns three Grand Slam titles in all and now is on his way to his 18th major quarterfinal. Medvedev’s lone run to that stage at a Slam came at Flushing Meadows last September, when he eliminated Wawrinka along the way to eventually losing in the final against Rafael Nadal in — yep, you guessed it — five sets.
This one hinged on the conclusion of the fourth set, when Wawrinka came through by taking the last three points of the tiebreaker.
Medvedev began to wilt right then, part of a portion of the match when he ceded 12 of 13 points.
That stretch included a break in the final set’s initial game when Medvedev sent a forehand long.
The 15th-seeded Wawrinka will meet No. 7 Alexander Zverev, who put an end to No. 17 Andrey Rublev’s 15-match winning streak by beating him 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 Monday night.
Zverev, a 22-year-old German, is into his first quarterfinal in Australia and third at a major tournament.
The other quarterfinal on this half of the bracket will be two-time French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem against the winner of Monday’s highly anticipated showdown between No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 23 Nick Kyrgios.
The men’s quarterfinals Tuesday will be defending champion Novak Djokovic against No. 32 Milos Raonic of Canada, and Roger Federer against 100th-ranked Tennys Sandgren of the United States.
After beating No. 10 Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 Monday — “Easy to say that it was by far the best” performance he’s had in the tournament — Thiem said he planned to kick back and watch Nadal vs. Kyrgios on TV.
For scouting purposes, sure, but also for its expected entertainment value.
After losing a second consecutive final at Roland Garros to Nadal in June, Thiem didn’t win another match at a Grand Slam tournament in 2019, losing first-rounders at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. But now he’s into his first quarterfinal at Melbourne Park.
There was an Australian Open debut quarterfinalist on the women’s side, too: No. 28 Anett Kontaveit of Estonia rallied from a set and a break down to beat 18-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland 6-7 (4), 7-5, 7-5, despite being broken twice while serving for the match.
“Absolutely delighted that she found a way to get through. I mean, it wasn’t the easiest to watch,” said Kontaveit’s coach, Nigel Sears. “A bit of an emotional roller-coaster. Certainly put me through the ringer today.”
Kontaveit, who had been 0-3 in the fourth round at majors, next plays two-time major champion and 2018 Australian Open runner-up Simona Halep.
“Mentally,” Halep said after her 6-4, 6-4 win over Elise Mertens, “I think I did a great job today.”
Another two-time Grand Slam title winner advanced to the quarterfinals when Garbiñe Muguruza eliminated No. 9 seed Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-3.
Muguruza won the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon. She is unseeded at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since the 2014 French Open.
Now she’ll face the 30th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who defeated three-time major champion Angelique Kerber 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4).
Kerber won the 2016 Australian Open, and her departure means that there will be a first-time champion at Melbourne Park this year.