By Ricky Dimon
Maxime Cressy’s turn-back-the-clock serve-and-volley tactics have been confounding opponents left and right this season. Heading into the Australian Open, only Rafael Nadal had managed to solve it (in the Melbourne 250 final).
It took another Grand Slam champion to stop Cressy at the Australian Open.
And it wasn’t easy.
No. 2 seed and title favorite Daniil Medvedev needed three hours and 30 minutes to hold off Cressy 6-2, 7-6(40, 6-7(4), 7-5 during fourth-round action on Monday afternoon. Cressy fired 75 winners (15 more than Medvedev), including 41 via volleys or overheads and 18 with aces. Not until Medvedev came up with a rare successful forehand pass on break point to end a marathon game at 5-5 in the fourth set was the outcome assured.
The conclusion finally put Cressy out of his best-ever tournament, and put Medvedev out of his misery.
“This is so boring,” Medvedev sulked at one point during the fourth set when the momentum was swinging toward his opponent.
“It’s simply unbelievable how lucky he is getting,” the 25-year-old Russian seethed at another point. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my whole life.”
“This is my unluckiest day ever,” he was heard saying on another occasion.
In the end, after he had survived the nightmare that was the only true serve-and-volleyer on the ATP Tour, Medvedev was gracious at the net and full of praise in the press room.
“He really did [serve and volley] well,” the 2021 Aussie Open runner-up and U.S. Open champion admitted. “First set I had control, but the second set I didn’t manage to break him but won the tie-break and just wanted to continue this way. When I lost the third (set) and when I had eight break points in the fourth set, I was like, ‘come on.’ Some of them I could have won, but he played well. But on the last one I played well.
“To be honest, I agree it was a great match. During the match it got a little crazy, I think with myself.”
As we have seen in the past, a little bit of craziness may be just Medvedev needs to win another Grand Slam title.
Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.