Medvedev Pulls Through 'Tricky' Cincinnati Opener

Top seed can cement status as World No. 1 through US Open with one more win

Daniil Medvedev rued facing the unseeded Nick Kyrgios so early in Montreal after defeat in his opening match last week. The World No. 1 faced another tough test against Botic van de Zandschulp on Tuesday night as he began his Western & Southern Open campaign.

Playing against the only man to take a set off him in his 2021 US Open title run, Medvedev made a fast start behind an instant break but had to survive a strange second set to secure a 6-4, 7-5 victory and advance to the third round in Cincinnati.

"The second set was not that clean," said Medvedev, who surrendered a break advantage and saved a set point on serve in the set. "The first set was great. Everything was working. I had three games where I had break points but managed to break in the first game, which was enough."

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Solid if unspectacular, Medvedev built a lead of a set and a break but immediately surrendered his advantage as van de Zandschulp levelled at 3-3 in the second. After the Dutchman saved three break points to hold for 5-4, it was Medvedev's turn to save a break point, which doubled as set point. The top seed survived thanks to an error from his opponent, then broke for the third time in the match as van de Zandschulp double-faulted three times on serve at 5-all.

"The second set was going not that bad," Medvedev said. "He was not serving especially well today, doing a lot of double faults. So I tried to keep pressure, use my chances. Actually on return, I feel like I did a good job. Two breaks on these fast courts is enough to win and I should have done a little bit better on my serve. But the first match is tricky and I'm happy that I managed to go though, and hopefully I will raise my level in the next matches."

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Serving woes plagues van de Zandschulp all night, as he finished with 11 double faults, including two on break points. But he made one last charge on return, creating his third break point of the match as Medvedev served it out.

"It happens to me some tournaments," Medvedev said of his opponent's serving struggles. "You don't know why, you just cannot put a second serve in and actually I did a few also here today. So maybe there was something with the balls getting a little bit heavy with the humidity."

Medvedev, who served four double faults himself with a first-serve percentage of 58, did just enough damage in his final service game to close out the match on his third match point. When the 2019 Cincinnati champion did make his first serve, he dominated with an 87 per cent win rate. 

He will next face Montreal quarter-finalist Tommy Paul or Denis Shapovalov, with a potential rematch with Kyrgios looming in the quarter-finals. With one more victory, Medvedev will secure his place atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings through his US Open title defence.

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