French Open: Medvedev overtakes Kecmanovic in clay show | French Open 2022

As Daniil Medvedev, the world’s No. 2, started his French Open this week, there was plenty of reason for many not to even consider him for a deep run at this tournament as he returns from hernia surgery.

In his absence, he was the face of all the news about the ban on Russian players at Wimbledon; all his press conferences and interviews were dominated by this topic, making it a possible distraction. In his return match last week in Geneva, Medvedev lost his opening match against Richard Gasquet in straight sets and he seemed far from top form. He returned to the surface he had spent much of the last year insulting, even as he reached the quarterfinals of the French Open.

On Saturday, however, Medvedev went to court and produced one of the best clay court performances of his career. In just one hour and 48 minutes on the court, he was well ahead of Miomir Kecmanovic 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the fourth round for the second consecutive year.

Kecmanovic was one of the outstanding players of the season. After arriving in Melbourne for the Australian Open 77th, he later rose to his current career-high 31st. But Medvedev dominated him from the start, playing controlled, attacking tennis, and through the match he was able to do whatever he wanted with the ball. Medvedev finished with 42 winners and 26 unforeseen errors, and he was not broken overall.

While Medvedev said he was surprised by how directly the match and score hit against such a quality player, he was only partially surprised by how he has played so far in Paris despite his preparation. “Coming here, of course, is not easy after losing the first round [in Geneva]”But I felt like it was something that worked well,” he said. “You just need to keep playing a lot of balls and working out physically.”

He continued: “Here before the tournament I really felt good, great, did a lot of physical work, played a lot of sets on the high intensity. So, I’m not so surprised, but to be honest, every time I play very well on clay I’m a little surprised, so today I was surprised. “

Saturday was a productive day for tennis players from Russia, with Andrey Rublev, Daria Kasatkina and Veronika Kudermetova also winning. Asked if the group supports each other because of their precarious status in tennis, Medvedev navigated the delicate issue noting that while he and other Russian tennis players congratulate each other, he treats all other tennis players equally.

“It’s the same between Russians or Russians and other tennis players,” he said. “I feel that’s why we tennis players love tennis because it connects well. And I don’t think nationality is important to us, but it’s more of a question that other players should answer. But me, I feel that way. Being in the locker room, let’s say, I love being in the locker room with other tennis players and it’s a great atmosphere. “

While all attention remains on the top-half of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev, the bottom half is a world of opportunity. Stefanos Tsitsipas, last year’s finalist and the only top challenger to land in this half, is the heavy favorite to make the final after a productive tennis season. Although he easily defeated Mikael Ymer to reach the fourth round, his form has been questionable so far in Paris.

The other top 10 seeds in the bottom half are Rublev, who defeated Cristian Garín 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (11) on Saturday, and Casper Ruud. Neither player had reached a grand slam semifinal before.

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If Medvedev was not considered a real challenger to reach the final at the beginning of the tournament, he is now. He will face Marin Cilic, the 20th seed, in the fourth round. Cilic defeated Gilles Simon 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 in the Frenchman’s farewell to Roland Garros. Simon, a former world number 6 and aged 37, decided to retire at the end of the season.

“There’s a lot of work and a lot of suffering,” he said. “I go down to three Voltaren and six [paracetamol] before the match. All that’s left is morphine. I know where I am. I will do my best to stay until the end of the year. ”

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