Medvedev Needs 9 Lives For First Win Of 2023
Daniil Medvedev didn’t need to wait long for a confidence-boosting match to kickstart his 2023 season.
The former World No. 1, who ended 2022 on a four-match losing streak, saved nine set points in the first set against Lorenzo Sonego and had recovered an early break in the second when the Italian retired from the match with leg cramps.
“It was crazy. It’s probably the first time I’ve saved nine set points in my life,” said Medvedev, who was leading 7-6(6), 2-1 when the match ended. “What a match to start the year! It was unfortunate for everyone that it had to finish early and I wish Lorenzo a speedy recovery.”
Late in the 81-minute opening set, Medvedev found himself in a world of hurt, first saving six set points at 4-5 after earlier holding a 40/0 lead. In his next service game Medvedev was the one who had to rally, clawing back from 0/40 before forcing a tie-break.
Sonego took the fight to Medvedev, consistently crushing forehands and making several forays to the net to exploit Medvedev’s deep-court position. But the full-frontal attack may have taken its toll. Sonego received treatment on his right arm at the end of the first set and soon after retired with leg cramps.
“It was a great match and I was actually surprised that Lorenzo retired,” Medvedev said. “Great match. I think the level could be better from both of us at some moments, but considering that it’s the first match of the year I feel like it was a great fight.”
World No. 7 Medvedev is looking to re-establish himself in the World's Top 5 after a mixed season in 2022. The 26-year-old spent 16 weeks as World No. 1 but won just two titles during his 45-19 campaign. He finished the year with four consecutive losses, however the last three were third-set tie-break losses to Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev at the Nitto ATP Finals.
Medvedev, who last year pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets in the Australian Open final, next faces Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.
In other action, Jannik Sinner began his season with victory, moving past Briton Kyle Edmund 6-3, 6-2 to advance. The sixth seed will next meet Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis. Karen Khachanov also advanced, defeating Pedro Cachin 6-2, 6-4.
In one of the most intriguing first-round clashes in Adelaide, Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut battled past fourth seed Andrey Rublev 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 after one hour and 50 minutes.
Rublev had won four of the past five matches between the pair, but Bautista Agut won 62 per cent of his second-serve points en route to his victory. The 34-year-old will next face American Sebastian Korda, who ousted former World No. 1 Andy Murray 7-6(3), 6-3.
Korda now leads the pair's ATP Head2Head series 2-0 after triumphing against Murray last year in Gijon. The 22-year-old saved four of the five break points he faced to advance after one hour and 56 minutes.