Daniil Medvedev

Medvedev's many plot twists en route to AO R2

Both players struggled physically in demanding conditions
January 15, 2024
Daniil Medvedev is a two-time finalist at Melbourne Park.
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Daniil Medvedev is a two-time finalist at Melbourne Park. By ATP Staff

Daniil Medvedev's Monday bingo card probably didn't have all the elements of his unusual first-round win over French qualifier Terence Atmane.

Although safe passage to the second round at the Australian Open over the Grand Slam debutant was expected, two-time finalist Medvedev's journey to a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 1-0 ret. victory had more than its share of twists and turns, including a fitness test for both players in the 29 degree heat.

"When I started to feel tough physically he started cramping, so it was brutal conditions,” Medvedev said. “I’ve been here for seven days and it hasn’t been hot, and now it was hot for the first match. I was getting tired but many times in these situations the other guy is getting tired too and it’s about who manages it better.”

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The early part of the match followed a familiar script, with the underdog putting up a spirited challenge through the first 15 minutes before Medvedev broke the big Pokemon card collector in a five-deuce game for a 2-1 lead. Things continued as expected to the point where Medvedev served for the set at 5-4. But he played an error-prone game that started with a double fault and went downhill from there to drop serve. He was then broken a second consecutive time to surrender the set.

Key to Atmane's game plan was to exploit Medvedev's traditional deep-court returning position to force the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals champion to start points far off court, especially in the ad court when the 22-year-old used his left-handed slider to great effect. He would then mix in regular forays to the net and drop shots to keep Medvedev scrambling, and working hard under the full sun on Margaret Court Arena.

Medvedev steadied to level the match at a set apiece and then seemed like he was off to the races with an early break in the third, while the World No. 144’s movement was becoming increasingly hampered by cramps.

As Atmane’s mobility became even more problematic, the match came full circle when Medvedev began routinely drop shotting his opponent.

Atmane surprisingly reclaimed a break for 2-all but Medvedev again pulled away and was in firm control when the man nicknamed ‘the magician’ retired in the second game of the fourth set.

Medvedev suffered a third-round loss at Melbourne Park last year and dropped out of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings Top 10 but then went on a 19-match winning streak.

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