The top-seeded Daniil Medvedev hasn’t been able to get back to his last year’s form yet, one that managed to bring him to six straight finals, including the US Open. The Russian suffered a fourth-round loss to Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open and had an even tougher start to the European indoor circuit. Following an opening-round loss to Vasek Pospisil in Rotterdam, Medvedev came to Marseille and had to face a very tough draw from the get-go. Getting a first-round bye meant that he would be getting an opponent who’s already played a game on the courts in Palais Des Sports in Marseille. Even worse information was that this opponent will be the 18-year-old wunderkind from Italy, Jannik Sinner.
The very beginning of the match showed that Medvedev was lacking match rhythm. Sinner showed fearless, aggressive tennis and backed it up with insane depth and consistency from the get-go. The longer rallies which were supposed to work in Medvedev’s favor, almost all ended in the Russian’s errors.
Even the world no. 5 himself had no positive words to say about his first round performance. “I couldn’t get a ball into the court” said Medvedev after the match. The Russian’s demeanour was surprisingly calm given the circumstances, even when one of his serves was declared a foot fault.
Waking up on time
But as the match wore on, Medvedev was slowly getting a grip of the conditions and Sinner’s heavy ball. “In the two sets that followed I played very well, while my opponent lowered his level” said the Russian who came out victorious 1-6 6-1 6-2 in an affair that lasted just 79 minutes.
The backhand cross-court exchanges that used to bring Sinner a ton of points in the opening set were now causing his demise. Unable to hit through his opponent, the youngster grew increasingly frustrated. Medvedev was suddenly defending everything Sinner threw at him and also stinging the opponent with his pulverizing groundstrokes.
The Russian’s next opponent will be Gilles Simon, a player whom he has lost both head-to-head meetings too. They both came before Medvedev’s rise to the very top of the game but the Frenchman could be a very troubling opponent for Medvedev. One of not many who can match his consistency, Simon will have a completely different gameplan than Sinner and try to force Medvedev into playing his game.