World No. 4, Daniil Medvedev moved into the second round of the Australian Open with a four-set victory over American, Frances Tiafoe on Tuesday night.
A first round meeting against last year’s quarter finalist was never going to be easy, even though Tiafoe had generally struggled since his exploits in Melbourne 12 months ago. And so it proved, as Medvedev was sometimes left frustrated at the difficulty in shaking off the American.
Tiafoe had beaten Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov on his way to a maiden Grand Slam quarter final at the 2019 Australian Open, and he found some of that form on Tuesday, especially in the second set, and large parts of the third set. However, Medvedev had the final say, outlasting the American with the supreme consistency that has marked his rise to the top echelon of the men’s game.
“[I am] happy with the win because that’s most important. First round of a Grand Slam, never easy,” said Medvedev. “Sometimes the most important [thing] is to really not show some crazy level or crazy shots, but just to win the match, get into the tournament. It was a tough match against Frances, but happy to win it in four sets without playing five hours.”
Medvedev made a fast start, breaking twice to open up a 4-1 lead. He surrendered one of the breaks, but he was mainly comfortable throughout the opening set. That would change in the second set as Tiafoe elevated his level, causing Medvedev problems with his power and speed around the court. The pair exchanged breaks midway through the set, but Tiafoe broke again to love at 4-4, before serving out the set in the next game.
There was a flurry of break points at the start of the third set- Medvedev with four and Tiafoe with three inside the first three games of the set- but it was the Russian that took his chance, opening up a 3-0. Tiafoe continued to battle, and reeled in his opponent to even the set at 3-3. At that point, it was anybody’s set, and most definitely anybody’s match, but Tiafoe faltered towards the end of the set, throwing in an error-strewn service game at 4-5 to concede a 0-40 deficit. Medvedev converted the set point in style, chasing down a drop volley before flicking away a fine winner.
Tiafoe’s challenge fizzled out in the fourth as Medvedev tightened the screws- the Russian eventually claiming a 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory after two hours and 36 minutes. It was not the cleanest performance from the world No. 4, who served up 12 double faults, and he will expect to get better as he moves forward in the tournament.
“I have a lot of things to improve regarding today’s match. Especially the serve, I was not happy at all with my serve,” said Medvedev. “The most important [thing] is to win, to just win the match, get into the second round, get the sensations of the court, of the atmosphere, everything. Usually later in the tournament everything goes better and better.”
Medvedev will next take on Spanish qualifier, Pedro Martinez in the second round on Thursday.
The 23-year-old is in the same half of the draw as Rafael Nadal, but he still has plenty of work to do before contemplating a possible quarter final against Nadal. The fourth seed may have to beat 2014 champion, Stan Wawrinka on the fourth round, while Alexander Zverev, David Goffin and Andrey Rublev are amongst his possible quarter final opponents.
It was generally a good day for the seeds in that section of the draw, with the only casualty being 28th seed, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who retired hurt while trailing Alexei Popyrin by two sets to one.
Wawrinka took down Damir Dzumhur in four sets, while Zverev overcame former French Open semi-finalist, Marco Cecchinato 6-4 7-6 6-3. The German later announced that he will donate $10,000 to the victims of the devastating Australian bushfires for every match he wins in Melbourne; and if he goes on to claim the title, he will give up his entire prize money to the cause.
“I will donate $10,000 for every match I win here and I know I’m not the favourite to win this event, but I’ll donate every single cent to the bushfire relief fund if I win the title,” Zverev said.
The 22-year-old will face Belarusian, Egor Gerasimov in the next round.