Could Daniil Medvedev be growing fond of the clay at Roland Garros?
Much has been made of the second seed’s lack of previous success in Paris, but Medvedev advanced to the third round of the year’s second Grand Slam on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 win against American Tommy Paul.
The two-time major finalist arrived in France with an 0-4 record at Roland Garros. But Medvedev has only lost one set through two matches, and he will next play big-serving American Reilly Opelka for a spot in the fourth round.
After his first-round win against Alexander Bublik, Medvedev said, “I’m feeling that here, at least this year with this weather, with these balls, I can play like on hard courts.”
On hard courts, Medvedev often finds a “lockdown mode” in which he makes few unforced errors and frustrates his opponents. Despite a slow start against the 2015 Roland Garros boys’ singles champion, that’s exactly what Medvedev did on Wednesday inside Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Medvedev, who uncharacteristically sprayed shots in the first set, made just three unforced errors in the second to claim the momentum. Instead of falling well behind the baseline and taking risks from tough court positions, the 10-time ATP Tour titlist settled down and tested Paul’s consistency and patience.
Medvedev broke the World No. 52’s serve eight times and won 80 per cent of his first-serve points to advance after two hours and 18 minutes.
The World No. 2’s next opponent, Opelka, battled past Spaniard Jaume Munar 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 earlier in the day. The 32nd seed had never won a match at Roland Garros before this week.
“Medvedev [is] one of the best returners in the world,” Opelka said.
Their clash promises to be a tight one. Medvedev leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-1, but all three of their clashes have gone the distance. This will be their first meeting on clay.