Daniil Medvedev’s strong form continued as he defeated Reilly Opelka 6-4 6-2 6-4 on a wet Friday in Paris to advance to the fourth round at Roland Garros for the first time in his career.
The second seed, who held an 0-4 record at Roland Garros prior to this year, was rock-solid against Opelka as he continues in his bid to rise to No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Medvedev will replace Novak Djokovic at World No. 1 if he reaches the final in Paris and the 34-year-old does not.
The 25-year-old led Russia to the ATP Cup crown prior to a run to the Australian Open final (l. to Djokovic) in February, and he captured his 10th ATP Tour title, all of which have been on hard courts, at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille (d. Herbert).
The Russian hit 28 winners and committed just 16 unforced errors to set up a clash against clay-court specialist Cristian Garin, the 22nd seed. The victory extends Medvedev’s ATP Head2Head Series lead to 3-1 against big-serving Opelka, and moves him to 21-5 for the season.
Medvedev fought back from 1-3 in the first set against Opelka, and won ten of the next 12 games to grab control. After breaking Medvedev early, the American tamely gave up his advantage in the following game when he pushed a simple volley wide. The miss seemed to influence the mindset of the American as he looked to stay behind the baseline and not move up the court. This benefited Medvedev, who controlled the longer rallies and he wrapped up the set when Opelka fired long on the forehand.
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With the 23-year-old somewhat deflated by the previous 20 minutes, Medvedev continued to dominate in the second set, winning 92 per cent of his first-service points (11/12) as he did not face a break point. The Russian looked comfortable from the back and even toyed with Opelka by using the drop shot to great effect to move further clear.
Opelka dropped serve once again at the start of the third and he continued to struggle on return as Medvedev’s newfound confidence on the clay was on show for all to see on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. Opelka’s first serve increased to 85 per cent in the third set, but it was too late to impact proceedings as the Russian moved through in one hour and 38 minutes.
Opelka, who recorded his first ATP Tour-level wins on clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in May when he reached the semi-finals (l. to Nadal), had dropped just one set on his way to the third round in Paris, beating Andrej Martin and Jaume Munar. However, his 10th defeat of the season (8-10) means the American’s focus will now switch to the grass.