Ruthless Medvedev Advances At Australian Open

Russian looking for second consecutive Grand Slam title

New year, same ruthless efficiency for Daniil Medvedev at a hardcourt Grand Slam championship. With a 13-1 record across the Australian Open and US Open in 2021, the Russian dropped just three sets in those 13 victories.

The World No. 2 continued that trend in the first round of the 2022 Aussie Open, blanking Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3), in Rod Laver Arena.

Playing in his first major since his US Open triumph, Medvedev dropped serve in the opening game, then surrendered little else over the one-hour, 54-minute match. The 2021 AO finalist did not face a break point in sets two and three, though Laaksonen allowed just one break point on his own serve in that period as the match tightened down the stretch.

“He started playing better. He was touching a lot of the lines,” Medvedev said of his opponent’s third-set surge. “He was controlling the game, was hitting full power every shot he had.”

At the crucial moment, Medvedev’s patience paid off. Despite some visible frustration late in the third set—and the loss of a 32-ball rally at 3-2 in the tie-break—the Russian baited his opponent into three unforced errors in winning the match’s last four points.

As the highest-seeded player in the men’s draw, Medvedev is not shying away from the spotlight: “I like pressure,” he said in his on-court interview. “It’s a really important tournament for me always in Australia. I like to play here, I like hard courts. So I always want to do better than I did last year, but it’s not going to be easy.”

After the win over World No. 91 Laaksonen, who was seeking a first Top 5 win to go along with his current career-high ATP Ranking, Medvedev will face home favourite Nick Kyrgios in the second round on Thursday. The Aussie moved past British qualifier Liam Broady 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

Should Medvedev go all the way in Melbourne, he would become the first man in the Open Era to follow up his maiden Grand Slam title with another title in his next major appearance. This feat has been accomplished five times on the WTA, most recently by Naomi Osaka (2018 US Open, 2019 Australian Open).

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