Daniil Medvedev is no longer a pushover at the French Open with the two-time finalist at hard-court grand slam tournaments finally making some headway on the red clay of Roland Garros.
He reached the third round in Paris for the first time by coming back from a poor start to overcome Tommy Paul 3-6 6-1 6-4 6-3.
The second-seeded Medvedev carried an 0-4 record at the French Open into this year’s draw but he is 2-0 this week.
After his first-round win against Alexander Bublik, Medvedev said, “I’m feeling that here, at least this year with this weather, with these balls, I can play like on hard courts.”
The runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the 2019 US Open and to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in February next plays big-serving American Reilly Opelka, the 32nd seed.
Opelka, like Medvedev, is in the last 32 of the French Open for the first time after getting past Jaume Munar 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-5.
“Medvedev [is] one of the best returners in the world,” Opelka said.
Their clash promises to be a tight one with Medvedev leading their series 2-1, but all three of their clashes have gone the distance.
This will be their first meeting on clay.
After dropping the opening set in Wednesday’s night session, Medvedev took command in the second where he consolidated an early break to race ahead 3-0.
Paul got on the scoreboard before Medvedev won 12 of the final 14 points of the set to pull even.
The Russian then broke twice in the third set before closing it out in style with a hold to love in a 53-second game.
Paul twice broke Medvedev’s serve in the fourth set and fended off a match point to keep the affair alive with a nimble net game but it only delayed the final outcome.