The defending champion had three set points and a 5-1 lead before allowing the Belarusian to claw back to even terms in the opening set at 5-all. But after doing all the hard work to push back into the match, the World No. 46 sprayed four unforced errors to drop serve to love to cede momentum back to Medvedev, who would eventually claim a 7-5, 6-4 victory.
“The last time we played he beat me at Davis Cup. I’ve known him since the Futures and I knew that he’s a great player on the rise, so I knew it would not be easy,” Medvedev said. “At the beginning of the match [my level] was good but in the middle of the match there were some things I could do better. The most important thing is the victory.
“It doesn’t matter how you play in the first round. The one who raises his level throughout the tournament is the one who will win it.”
The reigning US Open champion has a faint hope of denying Novak Djokovic a record seventh finish as year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. At a minimum, by winning the Paris title the World No. 2 can ensure that Djokovic won’t clinch World No. 1 honours before the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.
Medvedev will next face #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda, who defeated last week’s St. Petersburg champion Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-4. Korda did not face a break point and dropped just seven points on serve.
“It’s always exciting to play someone for the first time,” Medvedev said. “We’ve never even practised together. He just had a great win over Marin who is coming off a tournament win, so I’m very excited to play him tomorrow.”
With Djokovic already in the third round in Paris, Medvedev must at least press on to the semi-finals to keep alive the year-end No. 1 battle.
There are several scenarios in which Djokovic can clinch the achievement in Paris:
- Djokovic wins Paris title (regardless of Medvedev’s Paris finish)
- Djokovic reaches Paris final + Medvedev does not win Paris title
- Djokovic reaches Paris SF + Medvedev does not reach Paris final
- Djokovic reaches Paris QF + Medvedev does not reach Paris SF
- Djokovic reaches Paris 3R + Medvedev does not reach Paris SF
- Medvedev does not reach Paris QF (regardless of Djokovic’s Paris finish)