Medvedev returned to the court with a victory
Daniel hasn’t played in a month and a half and seems to be saving his strength for now
World number one Daniel Medvedev started his Test series across the ocean with a convincing win over Japanese Rinky Hijikata of Australia in the second round of the ATP 250 tournament in Los Cabos, Mexico. There was no doubt as to who was the men’s tennis leader and who was the No. 224 during this match. Although it was not a smash. Russia’s best tennis player played confidently and sparingly, increasing pressure on his opponent only when necessary. Daniil broke only two times, but at the right moments to win without nerves and titanic efforts – 6:4, 6:3. The game ended in 1 hour and 32 minutes and left the impression that Medvedev intends to gradually gain his form for the US Open, instead of demolishing the outsiders from the court right now.
Will there be a first trophy of the season?
Daniil did not play for six weeks because of his suspension from Wimbledon and chose not the most stellar tournament to return from this forced leave. Most of Medvedev’s toughest opponents are in Washington, D.C., complaining about the brutal heat and lack of heat. Los Cabos wasn’t exactly a chilly place either – plus 30 in the shade – but Medvedev played an evening session and, by all accounts, was physically comfortable. He didn’t expend much energy either, taking his opponent’s serve only at the end of the first set – preventing a tie-break – and in the middle of the second set, ruling out a nervous ending. On the whole everything was very mature tactically, although the opponent’s level, of course, does not allow you to draw serious conclusions about the current state of our athlete. In fact, Medvedev had a tight sparring session in tournament mode. So he won, and thank God.
Daniel’s next opponent in the third round will be Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania, the 98th racket of the world. On the whole, no stellar competitors are expected before the final in Los Cabos, but Medvedev will have a rather difficult task in Mexico. On one hand he cannot force his way through a marathon of four or five matches a week as the U.S. Open is more than 20 days away. On the other hand, there is a lot of pressure to protect a lot of points. Probably the first place in the rankings is not an end in itself for a smart tennis player, but a very serious moral incentive. The main tests are waiting for our leader at the Masters in Montreal and Cincinnati, as well as at the majors in New York. But if he now shows his weakness in Los Cabos, the pressure will be even stronger.
There’s another important psychological point: Medvedev hasn’t taken a single title so far this season, which isn’t great in his current status. “What matters most is winning matches,” Daniel said on the eve of the tournament in Mexico. – Every opponent is strong, but winning matches gives you confidence, makes you feel better about the game. That’s why I came to Los Cabos. Of course, I’m following the battle for first place in the ATP rankings a little bit. Depends on the moment, because I know that by the end of the year, if I don’t try to win every remaining tournament, probably Rafael Nadal will be first. At the same time, I can keep that status as long as possible if I play well at tournaments in North America.”
For the next game, I’ll add
The victory over Hijikata was the 250th win for Medvedev in his professional career, but it is far from a record, and it is unlikely that anyone, except for statistical fans, will pay attention to this event at all. “It’s probably a milestone in some ways,” Daniil commented surprisingly on his achievement. – But, of course, I want more wins, and I’ll try to increase that number in the near future. And for today’s match it wasn’t easy for me, because I haven’t played a tournament with an artificial surface since the beginning of spring, since the tournament in Miami. I had a good feeling. I had a few hiccups in the match, but you don’t have to think about that when you win. I plan to get better by the next game.
Meanwhile, important events for our tennis players are taking place in Washington. First of all, Andrey Rublev’s opponent in the third round was a two-meter American, Maxim Cressey, number 32 in the world ranking. The American is no doubt overpowering, but Rublev (just like Medvedev) is unstable as of late and can either take on a very serious player or lose to a newcomer. Cressi, of course, is not a no-name and in July he won a tournament in Newport, but Maxim’s main specialization is grass courts, and on hard courts Rublev should have an advantage.
But another Russian Aslan Karatsev finished his singles appearance in Washington, losing to 115th-ranked Mikael Imer of Sweden in three sets – 4-6, 6-3, 4-6. After two relatively good tournaments in Europe, Aslan again lost his first match for the second time in a row. Meanwhile, his former coach Yegor Yatsyk continues to work successfully with the Russian Romanov Safiullin on the “Challengers”. The day before the 124th racket of the world reached the quarterfinals of the tournament in American Lexington having beaten the representative of India Sasha Kumar Mukund in two sets – 6:3, 7:6 (7:2).
And as for Russian Anna Kalinskaya, everything is still going well for her in the women’s tournament in Washington. Kalinskaya reached the quarterfinals, defeating the former first racket Simona Halep of Romania: her opponent gave up the fight in the second set at 7:5, 2-0. Anna’s next opponent is Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. Russian player Darya Kasatkina will also play in the quarterfinals in San Jose. After her resounding victory over Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, Kasatkina defeated American qualifier Taylor Townsend 6-4, 6-0 in the second round. In the quarterfinals of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic Daria will play against Arina Sobolenko of Belarus or Carolyn Dolhide of the USA. Let me remind you that last year the first Russian racket reached the final in San Jose.