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Roger Federer Starts Strong at French Open, Daniil Medvedev gets first RG win ever

Roger Federer swept Denis Istomin to reach the Roland Garros second round for the 15th time. EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT

By Ricky Dimon

Roger Federer is back in the win column at the French Open.

Federer, who missed last year’s tournament and has also been sidelined for almost all of this season, returned at Roland Garros and defeated Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 during first-round action on Monday afternoon. The 39-year-old needed only one hour and 33 minutes to set up a showdown against Marin Cilic.

Having lost his only clay-court match in 2021 (to Pablo Andujar in Geneva), Federer’s form was in doubt heading into this fortnight. However, he raised his level considerably on Monday and did not face a single break point.

“I just felt overall much clearer, much better (than in Geneva),” Federer said. “Clearly also maybe the type of opponent allowed me to have many different ways to win the point. I knew if I came to the net, that was an option; hitting a drop shot was always an option; taking the ball early was an option.

Roger Federer did not face a break point defeating Denis Istomin for the eighth time in as many meetings at Roland Garros. EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT

“What else?…. I think the biggest difference for me was in Geneva, now looking back, is that I feel like you play a lot of points very quickly. I think that’s what got me at the end. I rarely took the extra two, three, four, five seconds I usually take by getting the towel or waiting for the crowd, whatever the dynamics might be.

“I felt today I really made a bigger effort of going more in swings and not going through it like in the practice, where you just go point for point for point, let’s play a maximum amount of points. I sometimes have to tell myself, ‘Take a little bit of time, walk to the towel, do something different.'”

Daniil Medvedev did something different, too–actually winning a match at the French Open.

Previously 0-4 lifetime at Roland Garros, Medvedev finally advanced to the second round by beating Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 after one hour and 54 minutes.
Following a lopsided two sets, Bublik showed signs of righting the ship when he served for the third set. However, the Kazakh cracked and ended the match by losing four games in a row.

“(It) feels great,” the world No. 2 commented. “But the most important is the level of tennis. I’ve been showing, as I said before the tournament, it was not mind games. My opponent can see I was really feeling good. I managed to play consistent today. I actually played much better in practices than today, so there is room for improvement. Hopefully it can be only better for the next rounds. As I say, (I’m) really happy first of all with the win and then with my level of play also.

“I feel very confident, I move well, slide well,” said second-seeded Daniil Medvedev after his first career Roland Garros win. EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT

“I feel really hopeful. You could see it today in the match; I’m feeling that here — at least this year with this weather, with these balls — I can play like on hard courts. It doesn’t feel different than Australian Open for me coming into this tournament.

“If I lose here in Roland Garros it’s probably going to be because my opponent will play really good. As I said, I feel very confident, I move well, slide well.”

Next up for Medvedev is Tommy Paul, who battled past Christopher O’Connell 10-8 in the fifth set.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.