Daniil Medvedev booked his spot in round three with a four-set victory over American Tommy Paul in what turned into a one-sided night session at Roland Garros.
The Russian number two seed made it back-to-back wins on the red dirt in Paris courtesy of a 3-6 6-1 6-4 6-3 success in two hours and 18 minutes.
Medvedev had previously failed to win a match in the main draw of this major on any of his four previous visits to Paris, but his movement, gigantic serve and power from the baseline overwhelmed the world number 52. Indeed, his form so far suggests he could well go deep in this year’s draw.
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Medvedev will now meet another American, the towering number 32 seed Reilly Opelka, in round three.
Speaking to the Eurosport Cube post-match, Medvedev said: “This week I feel great. Today, in the first set, I think I was playing quite bad in terms of my level and still I had a lot of opportunities to actually come back and win the set. Of course, (I was) a little bit disappointed, but I knew I had to just continue playing and maybe put a little bit more pressure on and it worked straight away in the second set. And then I didn’t quite lose control of the match.
“Tommy is a tricky player. You could see it in the last set, I lost my serve twice. I couldn’t do that much, he was running and hitting great shots and winners. I changed my racket at the end of the first set as I felt the tension wasn’t quite right. Straight away when I changed it, I took control and could hit stronger. I also had more variety because I had more confidence in my shots."
Asked if he feared the serve of his next opponent Opelka, he added:
I’m never scared, but it’s a tough draw. No matter if you play him in the final or the first round, it’s always a tough draw. He doesn’t give you rhythm. I lost against him actually (in their most recent meeting in St Petersburg last year). I was feeling great, had a lot of opportunities, but he was serving aces on some important points. So he's not an easy opponent, but I think actually clay will help for this one. I’m hoping I'm going to love clay even more after this match, but we are going to see.
The early exchanges went to script as some tight games were dominated by long, attritional rallies from the baseline and typically big serving. That all changed when Medvedev double faulted and then fizzed a backhand long as he was broken to love to trail 4-2.
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Paul consolidated and eventually served out the opener on a fourth set point after fending off a break back opportunity from deuce in what proved to be a tense and gruelling final game.
Medvedev immediately responded by upping the ante and breaking at the start of Set 2 before racing into a 3-0 lead. The Russian’s power and telescopic reach continued to grow in significance, and he broke again for 5-1 before serving out a one-sided set to level matters.
The No.2 seed’s charge gathered pace in the third set as Paul volleyed a return wide on a fourth break point after rallying to save three in a row. Medvedev then consolidated to make it five games on the spin and take a firm grip of the proceedings.
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Paul continued to battle and when the reigning ATP Finals champion suddenly dipped, he broke back to love to level at 3-3 with the aid of a delicious crosscourt lob.
A switch in momentum was not forthcoming though and Medvedev edged a hard-fought seventh game to break at the second opportunity and reassert his authority before going on to claim the set.
Paul needed a strong start to Set 4 but got the opposite. A weak service game ended with a miscued forehand long of the baseline to hand Medvedev the scoreboard advantage once again.
This time the Russian didn’t let up, charging to a double break and totting up five games on the run overall. Paul pulled one break back for 4-2 and saved two match points in a flurry of breaks before coming unstuck on his own serve once again.
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Watch all the action from the 2021 French Open live on Eurosport, eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal eyeing a remarkable 14th title and 2020 Roland Garros sensation Iga Swiatek aiming to replicate her stunning triumph.
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