Daniil Medvedev launches his Australian Open bid on Tuesday night when he faces last year's Melbourne quarter finalist, Frances Tiafoe in the first round.
Daniil Medvedev vs Frances Tiafoe Match Info
Date: Tuesday January 21
Tournament: Australian Open R1
Court: Rod Laver Arena
Time: 7:00pm local time (8:00am GMT)
Daniil Medvedev vs Frances Tiafoe Head-to-Head
Tied at 1-1
2019 | Washington R16: Medvedev def. Tiafoe 6-2 7-5
2015 | Nice (Q): Tiafoe def. Medvedev 6-3 6-2
Daniil Medvedev vs Frances Tiafoe Match Preview
Backed by bookmakers as the third favourite for the title, below Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, but ahead of six-time champion, Roger Federer, Medvedev arrives Melbourne with a soaring reputation, following his exploits over the last few months.
The Russian compiled an absolutely stunning sequence of results between August and October, reaching six consecutive finals, winning three of them. That run included his first Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai, and a title run in St. Petersburg. He also contested his first Grand Slam final within that period, falling just short against Rafael Nadal in an epic five-set US Open final. The Russian showed all of his durability and fighting qualities in battling back from two sets and break down to force a decider, but he just missed out on a sensational comeback win against the great Spaniard.
Medvedev and Nadal can reprise that US Open clash in Melbourne, with the pair drawn in the same half and projected to meet in the semi-finals. While the Russian unsurprisingly wants to win the tournament, he is not looking too far ahead, preferring to take it a step at a time.
“[A] good Australian Open is to win it. But if you ask me what I’m going to be happy about, it always depends of course who you play, who you lose to,” Medvedev said. “But I would say I will be happy with quarters. As I always say, for me the first goal is to win it step by step. If I’m in [the] quarters, I’m not going to be there and say, ‘Okay, I’ve done my goal, it’s enough for this tournament.’ Any tournament I play, I want to win it.”
Overall, Medvedev won four titles last year, including Sofia from earlier in the season, and ended 2019 as the No. 5 player in the world, having peaked inside the top four. Medvedev also qualified for the season ending Nitto ATP Finals for the first time in his career, but he appeared to run out of steam towards the end of the season, losing his last four matches, including all three round-robin matches at the year-end Finals in London.
The off-season has given him the chance to reflect on his achievements and recharge his batteries, and the Russian has made a positive start to the new campaign. He won four of his five singles matches at the ATP Cup, with his only defeat coming against Novak Djokovic in a high quality battle in the semi-finals.
The 23-year-old looks in fine form heading into Melbourne, and will aim to go much further than last year’s fourth-round performance. He starts his tournament against Frances Tiafoe on Tuesday.
American young gun, Tiafoe reached the quarter finals of the Australian Open last year, scoring notable wins over Grigor Dimitrov and Kevin Anderson before falling to Nadal, but that was as good as it got for him in 2019.
The 21-year-old made four more quarter finals in the ATP regular season- Miami, Estoril, Winston-Salem and Antwerp, failing to go past the last eight in any of those tournaments. He won just one more Grand Slam match outside Melbourne, via Ivo Karlovic’s retirement at the US Open. Tiafoe did reach the semi-finals at the season-ending Next Gen ATP Finals, beating Ugo Humbert and Mikael Ymer to finish second in his group, before falling to Alex De Minaur in the last four.
The American broke into the top-30 in February, but he couldn’t quite build on that through the course of the year, and was at 47th at the end of the season, eight spots down on his year-end ranking from the previous year. With quarter final points to defend in Melbourne, and an opening round clash with Medvedev, that ranking could be taking another big hit very soon.
Tiafoe is still seeking his first win in 2020, having suffered first round defeats in Doha and Auckland. He lost 6-4 4-6 6-4 by Marton Fucsovics in his season-opener in Doha, before falling 6-4 5-7 6-1 to Ymer in Auckland.
Can a return to Melbourne bring out the best in the American as he takes on Medvedev on Tuesday?
He’s beaten Medvedev before, but that was back in 2014 in the Nice qualifiers. Medvedev pulled off a 6-2 7-5 victory their only previous main draw encounter in Washington last year.
“It’s a great matchup,” Medvedev said about his R1 match with Tiafoe. “He was in quarters here last year, again super motivated. But I think it’s going to be a great match. Of course, I want to do my best to win it. Hopefully I can show some good tennis. Like this, I’m going to have my chances.”
Daniil Medvedev vs Frances Tiafoe Match Prediction
The form may not be there for Tiafoe at the moment, but the talent is definitely there. He’s an electric character, who is very dangerous when he gets going. However, Medvedev, with his mechanical defence and unorthodox shot-making, is the sort of player that can bore and frustrate the life out of Tiafoe. Tiafoe will have his moments, and will excite the crowd with his energy, but Medvedev’s discipline should get him over the line.