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Ricky’s preview and picks for Day 6 of the Australian Open: Medvedev vs. Van de Zandschulp and Rublev vs. Cilic

By Ricky Dimon

Fellow Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are on a collision course for the quarterfinals and they will be back on the court at the Australian Open on Saturday. Medvedev meets Botic Van de Zandschulp; Rublev faces Marin Cilic.

Here are my previews and picks for two of the third-round matchups on Day 6 of the year’s first Grand Slam.

Botic Van de Zandschulp vs. (2) Daniil Medvedev

Only one player managed to take a set off Medvedev during the Russian’s trek to the 2021 U.S. Open title: Botic Van de Zandschulp. A rematch of Medvedev’s 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5 quarterfinal victory will take place in the Australian Open third round on Saturday. The world No. 2 booked his spot in it by beating Nick Kyrgios 7-6(1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 on Thursday night, which followed a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3) victory over Henri Laaksonen. With Novak Djokovic’s exit, Medvedev has clearly established himself as the favorite to capture a second consecutive Grand Slam title.

Van de Zandschulp has continued to climb the rankings since his breakthrough at Flushing Meadows. The 57th-ranked Dutchman has reached two more quarterfinals–including earlier this season at the Melbourne 250–plus a semifinal result in St. Petersburg as a qualifier. So far this fortnight he has defeated Jan-Lennard Struff and Richard Gasquet (via retirement), dropping just one set to Gasquet in the process. This should be another fun one, but Medvedev is in ruthless form and a spicy encounter with Kyrgios–and more specifically with the crowd–should only inspire the second seed moving forward. I don’t think he will let Van de Zandschulp take a set this time.

Pick: Medvedev in 3

(5) Andrey Rublev vs. (27) Marin Cilic

Rublev and Cilic will be squaring off for the sixth time in their careers on Saturday. The head-to-head series stands at 4-1 in Rublev’s favor and he has won four in a row at Cilic’s expense. After taking three straight in easy straight sets, the Russian prevailed 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 at last summer’s Cincinnati Masters.

Despite a positive Covid-19 test that forced him out of the ATP Cup, Rublev is starting 2022 strong. So far at Melbourne Park he has erased Gianluca Mager (6-3, 6-2, 6-2) and Ricardas Berankis (6-4, 6-2, 6-0). Cilic has already won six matches this year. The 27th-ranked Croat reached the semifinals at each of the Melbourne 250s and so far in Melbourne has ousted qualifiers Emilio Gomez and Norbert Gombos. However, he had a tough time closing out Gombos on Thursday; Cilic won the first two sets easily before finally surviving 8-6 in a fourth-set tiebreaker. A steep step up in competition should bring about a quick end to the 33-year-old’s tournament, as his futility against Rublev is likely to continue.

Pick: Rublev in 3

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.