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Medvedev makes his statement as contender in bottom half of French Open tennis draw

Daniil Medvedev is making his case as a Roland Garros contender. (Photo by Tnani Badreddine/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

French Open wins over Facundo Bagnis and Laslo Djere were nothing less than solid clay-court results on Daniil Medvedev’s resume. But they were also nothing more than that.

For a player–even one ranked No. 2 in the world–who missed more than a month of the clay-court swing and has never been at his best on the red stuff even at 100 percent, something else was needed to cement himself as a serious contender at Roland Garros.

That something else was exactly what Medvedev delivered on Saturday. Any victory over an in-form Miomir Kecmanovic would have been impressive, but a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 third-round rout was especially eye-popping and throws the second seed toward the top of the discussion regarding favorites to reach the final from the bottom half of the draw. Medvedev’s third consecutive straight-set win of the fortnight lasted only one hour and 48 minutes. He served at 71 percent, did not get broken a single time, and struck 16 more winners than unforced errors (42 to 26).

“(It) was a great match against a tough opponent,” Medvedev assessed. “To be honest, before the match I would never (have) thought I could make this score happen on clay courts. Everything I wanted to do today worked. I was serving great. I feel like I was almost putting all the returns in. Yeah, and I made his life tough.

“I think every time somebody comes up [against] me playing on clay, they’re gonna be like, ‘we have the chance.’ Maybe on hard courts they are still gonna believe, but maybe they are going to be a little bit scared or whatever. Here I think everybody believes they can beat me.

“Like today, I played a really great match and I’m sure Miomir during the match was like, ‘does this guy doesn’t love clay or what’s happening?'”

What’s happening is a possible march to the championship match in the bottom of the bracket away from Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Carlos Alcaraz. Obviously there is a long way to go before Medvedev can make that happen and the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Jannik Sinner, and Casper Ruud cannot be discounted. Hubert Hurkacz, Holger Rune, and Marin Cilic–Medvedev’s next opponent–are also in borderline dominant form.

But as the second week of the season’s second major looms, Medvedev’s potential opponents may be getting a little bit scared.

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