Preview: Can Medvedev, Tsitsipas & Zverev Capitalise In Paris?
The trio anchors the bottom half of the draw, where opportunity abounds after two-time finalist Dominic Thiem, the fourth seed, went out in a first-round shocker. And with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal landing in the same half as World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and 2009 champion Roger Federer for the first time ever at a Grand Slam, that means whomever advances won’t have to play a member of the Big Three en route to the final.
Tsitsipas and Zverev’s victories at ATP Masters 1000 events in Monte-Carlo and Madrid, respectively, have put them among the favourites at this year’s event. But anyone counting out second seed Medvedev might be having second thoughts after seeing the Russian’s victory over Alexander Bublik in the opening round.
Medvedev scored a confidence-boosting 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 win over the dangerous Kazakh to book a place into the second round at Roland Garros for the first time.
“You could see it today in the match, I'm feeling that here, at least this year with this weather, with these balls, I can play like on hard courts,” Medvedev said afterward. “It doesn't feel different than the Australian Open for me coming into this tournament.
“Now, when I'm coming to these big tournaments feeling like this, I know I'm capable of doing big things. [At the] Australian Open I was in the final. If I lose here in Roland Garros, it's probably going to be because my opponent will play really good.”
Medvedev will face American Tommy Paul for the first time in the night session on Court Philippe-Chatrier. Unlike his countrymen, Paul, who grew up playing on green clay in North Carolina, enjoys a clay court and he arrives with momentum after reaching the semi-finals in Parma last week.
Zverev, the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion, and Tsitsipas, the 2019 winner, will take centre stage on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. Sixth seed Zverev turned heads at the Mutua Madrid Open after taking down Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini en route to his 15th tour-level title.
High on confidence and flying under the radar, the German was tested in his opening match against qualifier Oscar Otte, but prevailed in a marathon 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0. The victory improved his perfect Roland Garros five-set record to 7-0.
“I feel quite confident, maybe, in my physical stand. From that side, maybe I know I can go the distance,” Zverev reflected after the match. “I don't always need to. I know that, but when I need to I feel comfortable doing that.”
Zverev will be hoping to avoid another lengthy battle as he takes on another qualifier, 24-year-old Russian Roman Safiullin, for the first time in the second round.
Tsitsipas, the FedEx ATP Race To Turin frontrunner, will close out the action on Lenglen as he takes on 24-year-old Spaniard Pedro Martinez on Wednesday. Martinez made a statement after knocking out newly minted Parma champion Sebastian Korda to reach the second round for the second year in a row.
The Greek player had to look inward during his opening match against Jeremy Chardy, who took him to a tie-break in the opening set. Tsitsipas responded by raising his level, and clinched a 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-1 victory to open his account in Paris.
“I think the first tie-break was a game changer, in a way,” Tsitsipas said afterward. “I did a lot of psychology, a lot of positivity and kind of loosened me up a little bit. Starting the second set a bit more aggressive, starting a bit more free-spirited and those things contributed in breaking and raising my level.”
Another thing that might contribute? Tsitsipas leads the ATP Tour with 18 clay-court matches won, alongside Federico Delbonis and Albert Ramos-Vinolas. He has been one of the most rock-solid players on the terre battue this season after his maiden ATP Masters 1000 win at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and claiming his seventh tour-level title in Lyon. He also held a match point against Nadal in the Barcelona final.
Also on tap, 23rd seed Karen Khachanov will face Kei Nishikori on Court Philippe Chatrier. The unseeded Japanese player has reached three quarter-finals at Roland Garros, including as recently as 2019, and he’s got the clay-court credentials to back it up, winning back-to-back titles in Barcelona in 2014-15. Back to full health after battling injuries, Nishikori took down 2019 quarter-finalist Khachanov last month in Madrid to bring his ATP Head2Head record against the Russian to 3-2.
Casper Ruud, Fabio Fognini and Cristian Garin are also among the seeds continuing their Roland Garros campaigns on Wednesday. Ruud, the 15th seed, will face World No. 126 Kamil Majchrzak as he seeks a spot in the third round for the third time in a row. Fognini, the 27th seed, will take on Marton Fucsovics, looking to extend his 2-1 ATP Head2Head lead over the Hungarian, while 22nd seed Garin will face American Mackenzie McDonald for the first time.