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Ricky’s preview and picks for Day 8 of the Australian Open: Auger-Aliassime vs. Cilic, Medvedev vs. Cressy

Felix Auger-Aliassime meets 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic at the Australian Open. EPA-EFE/JASON O’BRIEN

By Ricky Dimon

It won’t be an all-Russian quarterfinal in the bottom half of the draw, as Marin Cilic ousted Andrey Rublev on Saturday. Cilic will go up against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round on Monday, while Daniil Medvedev faces Maxime Cressy.

Here are my previews and picks for two of the fourth-round matchups on Day 8 of the year’s first Grand Slam.

(27) Marin Cilic vs. (9) Felix Auger-Aliassime

Auger-Aliassime and Cilic will be going head-to-head for the fourth time in their careers when they battle for a quarterfinal spot at the Australian Open on Monday. Cilic has won all three of their previous encounters; 6-3, 6-4 at the 2019 Washington, D.C. event, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 at the 2020 Paris Masters, and 7-6(2), 6-3 in last summer’s Stuttgart final. The 33-year-old has been in rejuvenated form dating back to that Stuttgart triumph. After falling as low as 47th in the world, Cilic will likely be no lower than No. 21 following this tournament if he wins on Monday. So far at Melbourne Park the 2014 U.S. Open champion has gotten the best of Emilio Gomez, Norbert Gombos, and Andrey Rublev.

Whereas Cilic has been cruising for the most part, Auger-Aliassime survived scares in each of his first two matches. The 21-year-old Canadian needed five sets against Emil Ruusuvuori and then held off Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 7-6(4) after four hours and 19 minutes. Auger-Aliassime needed to conserve some energy in the worst way on Saturday and that is exactly what he did during a 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 beatdown. Both of these players can be all over the place–making it a tough one to call–but it’s more likely to see Auger-Aliassime string together two great performances in a row than Cilic. The world No. 9’s return of serve is generally better than Rublev’s, too, which will put more pressure on the Croat and prevent him from dictating play as much as he would like.

Pick: Auger-Aliassime in 4

World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia reacts while in action against Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands during their third round match of the Australian Open Tennis Tournament at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, 22 January 2022. EPA-EFE/DAVE HUNT
Maxime Cressy vs. (2) Daniil Medvedev

Medvedev has been the betting favorite to win the Australian Open ever since Novak Djokovic was deported, and so far he is playing like it. The second-ranked Russian booked his spot in the second week by beating Henri Laaksonen, Nick Kyrgios, and Botic Van de Zandschulp–dropping just one set to Kyrgios in the process. Medvedev is now on a 10-match winning streak of Grand Slams, having triumphed at last year’s U.S. Open.

Up next for Medvedev is Cressy, who is leading the ATP Tour in match wins this season. The 24-year-old finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal at a 250 event in Melbourne and is through to the second week of a slam for the first time following defeats of John Isner, Thomas Machac, and Christopher O’Connell. Obviously, the competition level increases in a big way with Medvedev, who has never had much trouble in the past against big servers like Isner and Reilly Opelka. The No. 2 seed’s defense and all-court game will almost certainly be too tough for Cressy, even if the 70th-ranked American serves well.

Pick: Medvedev in 3

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