Preview: Can Medvedev, Fritz Maintain Strong Clay Form In Madrid?

  • Posted: May 01, 2023

Preview: Can Medvedev, Fritz Maintain Strong Clay Form In Madrid?

Fourth seed Tsitsipas meets 25th seed Baez

Monday’s action at the Mutua Madrid Open will finalise the last 16 at the ATP Masters 1000, with the third round to be completed on Day 6 of main-draw play. Second seed Daniil Medvedev will start the day’s slate in Manolo Santana Stadium against Alexander Shevchenko, with fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas meeting 25th seeed Sebastian Baez in the evening session on centre court.

Taylor Fritz’s midday matchup with Cristian Garin headlines the action in Arantxa Sanchez Stadium, with Frances Tiafoe facing Pedro Cachin just before on Madrid’s second stage. looks at some of the key third-round matchups on Monday’s schedule across the men’s singles draw and men’s doubles draw.

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[2] Daniil Medvedev vs. [Q] Alexander Shevchenko

A self-proclaimed “hard-court specialist”, Medvedev has found his footing on the clay this season with a quarter-final run in Monte-Carlo and a confident performance in a 6-4, 6-3 win against Andrea Vavassori in the Madrid opening round. 

The altitude in Madrid makes for quicker conditions than most clay courts on the ATP Tour, which should suit the 27-year-old. But despite that, Medvedev has never been beyond the third round in the Spanish capital, posting a 1-3 record in his previous appearances.

“I just want to play my best,” he said after beating Vavassori without dropping serve for his tour-leading 32nd win on the season. “Sure, everyone is saying here I should like it a little bit more than other clay courts because the serve goes a bit faster, the court is faster. So far I haven’t done well in Madrid, but today was a great match and I just hope for more matches like this in the next two weeks.”

Medvedev will bid to reach the last 16 for the first time in Madrid against the 22-year-old Shevchenko, who has risen six places to No. 90 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week behind his two qualifying and two main-draw wins — all earned in straight sets.

While it will be the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting, Medvedev and Shevchenko are friends off the court and are frequent opponents when playing video games together.

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After Shevchenko beat J.J. Wolf to mark his ATP Masters 1000 main-draw debut, he scored a statement 6-1, 6-1 win against 31st seed and Australian Open quarter-finalist Jiri Lehecka. The three-time ATP Challenger Tour champion will face a Top 10 opponent for the first time in Medvedev as he seeks to further prove himself at the game’s highest level.

[8] Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. Cristian Garin (CHI)

A shift in Fritz’s willingness to change has sparked a breakout clay-court season for the American. Fresh off consecutive semi-finals in Monte-Carlo and Munich, he stayed hot in Madrid with a 7-6(11), 6-4 opening win against Christopher O’Connell on Saturday.

“It’s just understanding what I need to change. Because I’ve always been a believer in not really changing your game too much to go to different surfaces,” Fritz said of his recent success on the dirt. “As it turns out for clay, I play much better when I do make pretty drastic changes in where I’m standing and stuff like that. So it’s just about finding that, finding what works best for me on clay.”

After saving two set points in a marathon first-set tie-break against Australia’s O’Connell, Fritz will now meet Garin, who grew up on clay courts and has won all five of his ATP Tour titles on the surface. The Chilean came through a three-set battle against 27th seed Miomir Kecmanovic in the second round and is seeking his third straight clay quarter-final after reaching that stage in Houston and Munich.

The lone previous meeting between Fritz and Garin came last year in the Houston quarters, when Garin won in three sets.

[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. [25] Sebastian Baez (ARG)

Tsitsipas emerged victorious from perhaps the best match of the Madrid early rounds in terms of quality and drama. In a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5) win against the resurgent Dominic Thiem, the Greek landed 39 straight first serves to spark his comeback and closed the win in a tie-break he described as “pure cash”.

After a quarter-final defeat to Fritz ended his two-year reign as Monte-Carlo champion, Tsitsipas rebounded in Barcelona by reaching the final with the loss of a single set in four wins. He lost to home favourite Carlos Alcaraz in the title match and could be on a collision course with the Spaniard again in Madrid.

But first he must get past Sebastian Baez, who snapped a three-match losing skid with a comeback win of his own against Marcos Giron in the opening round. After reaching his first three ATP Tour finals last season and claiming his maiden title in Estoril, the 22-year-old Argentine lifted his second trophy earlier this season on home soil in Cordoba.

Tsitsipas and Baez split two tie-breaks in their only previous matchup, last year in the Australian Open second round, before the Greek closed out the win in four sets.

Also In Action…

Tiafoe rounds out the action for Top 10 seeds with his match against Cachin, with the American seeking to back up his title run on the Houston clay with another deep run on the surface in Madrid. After missing Monte-Carlo as he recovered from his Houston run, Tiafoe was turned back by Emil Ruusuvuori in three in his Barcelona opener — a respectable defeat, particularly after the Finn nearly knocked Alcaraz out in Madrid.

The American got back to winning ways with a tight two-set win against Tomas Martin Etcheverry on Saturday and now faces another Argentine in the third round.

Cameron Norrie, the 11th seed, takes on Zhang Zhizhen, who upset Denis Shapovalov in a final-set tie-break to earn his second ATP Masters 1000 match win. In the last of the seeded action, 16th seed Alex de Minaur meets Aslan Karatsev, with both of those matches set for Court 3.

Just three men’s doubles matches are on tap for Monday. Defending champions and top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski take on Spaniards Martin Landaluce and Roberto Carballes Baena, fifth-seeded Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic face Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev, and seventh seeds Matthew Ebden and Rohan Bopanna play Marcelo Melo and Alexander Zverev.

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