Medvedev Edges Tiafoe, Moves On In Melbourne
Russian to face Koepfer or Martinez in second round
Daniil Medvedev was forced to work hard for his first-round win at the Australian Open on Tuesday night, beating Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in Melbourne.
The Russian, who fell to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the Round of 16 last year, broke serve on nine occasions and hit 42 winners throughout the entertaining encounter at Rod Laver Arena. Medvedev is aiming to capture his first Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park, following his run to the US Open final last year (l. to Nadal).
Medvedev improves to 5-1 this year after his two-hour, 36-minute win. The fourth seed won four of his five matches for Team Russia at the inaugural ATP Cup earlier this month.
Medvedev will meet Dominik Koepfer or Pedro Martinez for a place in the third round. The World No. 4 beat Koepfer in their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting to reach the US Open quarter-finals last year.
Medvedev made an impressive start to the match, covering the court well and using his forehand to finish points and establish a 4-1 advantage. Tiafoe stepped in on his returns to recover one of the breaks, before the Russian showcased great touch around the net to break for a third time and take the opener after 33 minutes.
After trading breaks early in the set, Tiafoe attacked with his backhand and moved up the court to take time away from Medvedev. The American broke serve to love at 4-4 and levelled the match with a powerful serve out wide.
Medvedev moved into a 3-0 lead in the third set, using his forehand to claim his fifth break of the match in a game that featured seven deuce points. But Tiafoe continued to fight hard, finding success behind a series of flat backhand strikes to level the score. Serving at 4-5, a series of Tiafoe groundstroke errors handed Medvedev three set points. The Russian converted his first opportunity, charging to the net behind a dipping passing shot to place the ball past his opponent.
Once again, Medvedev found success with another low forehand passing shot to break for a 2-0 lead in the fourth set. Tiafoe continued to battle, finding mixed success with aggressive play on his forehand side before Medvedev booked his place in the second round. The 23-year-old secured another service break to close the match, driving a deep backhand return to the laces of his opponent.
Contesting his 100th tour-level hard court match (41-59), Tiafoe was attempting to reach the second round for the third time. The 23-year-old reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne last year, beating Top 20 seeds Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov.
Stan Wawrinka improved to 15-0 in Australian Open first-round matches, beating Damir Dzumhur 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4. The 2014 champion landed 57 winners and saved both break points he faced to level his ATP Head2Head series against Dzumhur at 2-2.
Wawrinka will face Andreas Seppi for a place in the third round. The Italian moved past 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals semi-finalist Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3).