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Medvedev off to a strong start at Roland Garros, but tougher competition looms with Kecmanovic

Daniil Medvedev of Russia returns a ball against Laslo Djere of Serbia in their second round Roland Garros match. (Photo by Tnani Badreddine/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

It will take a lot more than beating Facundo Bagnis and Laslo Djere for the tennis world to believe that Daniil Medvedev is a serious contender for significant clay-court titles.

But Medvedev has to start somewhere as he returns from injury on a surface that does not suit his game, and he is starting to pick up wins at the perfect time. The world No. 2 did not just beat Bagnis and Djere in rounds one and two, respectively, at Roland Garros; he made complete mincemeat out of each opponent. Medvedev followed up his opening 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 result by defeating Djere 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday afternoon.

The 2021 U.S. Open champion is playing in just his second clay-court event of the season following a hernia issue. His first one last week in Lyon ended right away with a straight-set loss to Richard Gasquet.

Suddenly it’s Medvedev who is on the winning side of straight-setters. The second seed needed a mere one hour and 38 minutes against Bagnis and then he disposed of Djere in two hours and 35 minutes. Medvedev may not have been quite as efficient in his second match, but he still finished with more winners (28) than errors (26) and generated 18 break points (converted seven).

“I like my level so far,” he assessed. “Of course, it’s a Grand Slam; (you) can have tougher opponents, can lose third round and you are not going to be happy. But I feel like I can do well here. [On] clay courts it’s a little bit tougher, but I always remember a few good moments that I had, some great players (I beat), Barcelona, Monte-Carlo 2019.

“I know I’m capable of doing some good things. But, yeah, I need to be 100 percent focused and ready for what clay has to give to me. Right now I feel ready.”

Miomir Kecmanovic in action.

Is Medvedev now ready to take a big step up in competition level and make a real statement? That is exactly what he would do with a win over an in-form Miomir Kecmanovic, his third-round opponent on Saturday.

Kecmanovic’s breakout 2022 campaign already includes six quarterfinals or better (including Indian Wells and Miami) plus a fourth-round showing at the Australian Open. The 31st-ranked Serb’s 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 win over Alexander Bublik on Thursday was his 25th of the year.

In a wide-open bottom half of the draw, there may be more than just a berth in week two of a slam at stake. Don’t look now, but Medvedev making another major final–this time on his worst surface–is entering the realm of possibility.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.