Medvedev Tops Tiafoe, But Not Happy With Serve
Russian to face Martinez in second round
The Russian, who fell to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the Round of 16 last year, broke serve on nine occasions and hit 42 winners throughout the entertaining encounter at Rod Laver Arena. Medvedev is aiming to capture his first Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park, following his run to the US Open final last year (l. to Nadal).
“It felt different because that's the first time in my life I was stepping out on the centre court in the first round of a Grand Slam as a favourite,” said Medvedev.
Medvedev improves to 5-1 this year after his two-hour, 36-minute win. The fourth seed won four of his five matches for Team Russia at the inaugural ATP Cup earlier this month.
“[I am] happy with the win because that's most important. First round of a Grand Slam, never easy,” said Medvedev. “Sometimes the most important [thing] is to really not show some crazy level or crazy shots, but just to win the match, get into the tournament. It was a tough match against Frances, but happy to win it in four sets without playing five hours.”
Medvedev made an impressive start to the match, covering the court well and using his forehand to finish points and establish a 4-1 advantage. Tiafoe stepped in on his returns to recover one of the breaks, before the Russian showcased great touch around the net to break for a third time and take the opener after 33 minutes.
After trading breaks early in the set, Tiafoe attacked with his backhand and moved up the court to take time away from Medvedev. The American broke serve to love at 4-4 and levelled the match with a powerful serve out wide.
Medvedev moved into a 3-0 lead in the third set, using his forehand to claim his fifth break of the match in a game that featured seven deuce points. But Tiafoe continued to fight hard, finding success behind a series of flat backhand strikes to level the score. Serving at 4-5, a series of Tiafoe groundstroke errors handed Medvedev three set points. The Russian converted his first opportunity, charging to the net behind a dipping passing shot to place the ball past his opponent.
“He's got a great serve, probably one of the better serves on Tour, and he doesn't really give you anything. He doesn't really miss groundstrokes,” Tiafoe said. “He definitely makes you earn it. He makes a lot of returns, especially if you're not serving well. He's a top guy for a reason.”
Once again, Medvedev found success with another low forehand passing shot to break for a 2-0 lead in the fourth set. Tiafoe continued to battle, finding mixed success with aggressive play on his forehand side before Medvedev booked his place in the second round. The 23-year-old secured another service break to close the match, driving a deep backhand return to the laces of his opponent.
“I have a lot of things to improve regarding today's match. Especially the serve, I was not happy at all with my serve,” said Medvedev. “The most important [thing] is to win, to just win the match, get into the second round, get the sensations of the court, of the atmosphere, everything. Usually later in the tournament everything goes better and better.”
Contesting his 100th tour-level hard court match (41-59), Tiafoe was attempting to reach the second round for the third time. The 23-year-old reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne last year, beating Top 20 seeds Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov.
Stan Wawrinka improved to 15-0 in Australian Open first-round matches, beating Damir Dzumhur 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4. The 2014 champion landed 57 winners and saved both break points he faced to level his ATP Head2Head series against Dzumhur at 2-2.
John Isner and Alejandro Tabilo will meet in the second round after completing their first-round matches in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Isner rallied from a set down to edge past Thiago Monteiro 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 7-6(7), 7-6(5), while Tabilo outlasted fellow qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4 in three hours and 23 minutes. A total of five matches continued after midnight, with Gilles Simon, Kevin Anderson and Egor Gerasimov also securing late victories.
Isner, who will donate AUD $100 to bushfire relief efforts for every ace he hits during the event, landed 46 aces during his four-set victory against Monteiro. The 19th seed will also hand over 25 per cent of his total tournament prize money to the cause.