Cape Argus

Medvedev gets the monkey off his back


SECOND seed Daniil Medvedev beat Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 in an entertaini­ng clash at the French Open yesterday to finally win his first-ever match at Roland Garros on his fifth attempt.

Clay is Medvedev's least favourite surface, and despite arriving in Paris having lost in the first round during all four of his previous main draw appearance­s, the lanky Russian mastered his initial nerves and turned in a dominant display.

Bublik, the world No 37, made the brighter start, breaking Medvedev in his first service game to take a 2-0 lead, but the Russian broke back twice in a row before claiming the opening set.

Medvedev raced into a 4-0 lead in the second before Bublik pulled a break back. The Kazakh ramped up the pressure on Medvedev's serve further but the Russian saved a break point to extend his lead to 5-2 before serving out the second set.The third set stayed on serve until Bublik broke to earn a 5-3 lead and a chance to serve for the set. But Bublik crumbled, double faulting twice in succession to hand Medvedev the break back and let him off the hook. Medvedev capitalise­d on his opponent's next service game, breaking Bublik again before serving out the match in style with a hold to love, acknowledg­ing the sparse crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier with a wave of celebratio­n.

Roger Federer, meanwhile, marked his return to the Grand Slam arena in dazzling fashion with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 first-round defeat of qualifier Denis Istomin.

The 39-year-old Swiss had not played a Grand Slam match since the 2020 Australian Open and had managed only one claycourt match in the build-up to Roland Garros.

But any doubts about his condition were erased as he outclassed Istomin with a consummate display.

Federer went through his usual repertoire of shot-making, including a string of early drop shots, and was playing in cruise control throughout the one-sided contest. He was applauded warmly by the small Philippe Chatrier crowd who thoroughly enjoyed his 93 minute exhibition.

Swiss Federer, tied with Rafa Nadal on 20 Grand Slam titles, missed last year's French Open because of a knee injury and is appearing at Roland Garros for only the second time since 2015.

Bianca Andreescu became the highest women's seed to fall so far as she lost a three-hour marathon match against Timara Zidansek in the first round.

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