French Open: Rain can't dampen Medvedev spirits as Russian chases world-ranking summit

By Sports Desk June 04, 2021

The weather could not dampen the spirits of Daniil Medvedev as he reached the fourth round of the French Open for the first time on Friday.

The Russian was in good form as he beat Reilly Opelka 6-4 6-2 6-4 amid rainy conditions in the French capital.

The second seed, who will meet clay-court specialist Cristian Garin next, hit 28 winners to 16 unforced errors in a dominant display on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

It was a display to instil some confidence into Medvedev as he chases the world number-one spot, which he will claim if he reaches the final and Novak Djokovic does not.

"Clay at Roland Garros feels great this year," he said. "As I said after the first round [against Alexander Bublik], now I know that to beat me, the guys have to play well. I am definitely happy with my game and my return today, because I actually hit more aces than him. That's a great achievement.

"I think a little bit [the] rainy conditions, wet, heavy court – which I totally hate on clay – helped me today. In these conditions, even guessing one side, I could still get back to another side if I saw the serve coming the other way."

ZVEREV DIGS DEEP TO PROGRESS

Alexander Zverev joined Medvedev in the last 16, the sixth seed saving three set points in the second set against Laslo Djere before taking nine of the next 11 games to ease to a 6-2 7-5 6-2 win.

"I was down 3-5, 40-0 on his serve and you don't always come back from that score," said Zverev, who will now meet three-time quarter-finalist Kei Nishikori. "He played a fantastic match, he is playing great on this surface so I knew I had to play much, much better than the first two rounds and I did that today."

Twelfth seed Pablo Carreno Busta was also a straight-sets winner, seeing off Steve Johnson to set up a meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas, who survived a stern examination by John Isner.

Having lost the first set to the big-serving American, Tsitsipas recovered to win 5-7 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 at close to midnight local time to extend his winning streak on clay to seven matches.

FOGNINI STUNNED, FOKI EDGES FIVE-SET EPIC

Federico Delbonis stunned 27th seed Fabio Fognini 6-4 6-1 6-3. He will take on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who came through a brutal five-set contest with Casper Ruud that lasted more than four and a half hours.

"I think this match represents Roland Garros," said the man known as 'Foki' to his fans. "This match was very tough. He played unbelievable.

"In the fifth set, we were in [a] battle every game. Every game we wanted to win [and] to break the serve of the other guy. It was, with all [the] emotions inside [and] with all the crowd singing your name, unbelievable!"

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  • French Open: Tsitsipas through against "complete player" Kolar French Open: Tsitsipas through against "complete player" Kolar

    Stefanos Tsitsipas called Zdenek Kolar a "complete player", despite ultimately defeating his Czech opponent in the second round of the French Open.

    Tsitsipas was relatively untroubled in the first set, but was made to work for the win after that as he and Kolar exchanged one tie-break each before the number four seed finally secured victory with another tie-break in the fourth set, sealing it 6-3 7-6 (10-8) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (9-7).

    Kolar is ranked 134th in the world but looked every bit a threat to Tsitsipas on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, hitting 57 winners and succeeding with 29 of 37 net points (78 per cent).

    Speaking at a news conference after his win, Tsitsipas explained the difficulties he experienced, saying: "He's someone I knew a little bit. It's never easy playing guys that don't really play on the ATP Tour. You don't really know what to expect. I guess they play more free.

    "It's always like this. They really have a nothing-to-lose mentality. It's a different mentality than what we have, I think, which sometimes can really be brutal on the court and create some good tennis.

    "He was really pushing a lot today, getting after every ball. His body was behind every ball. Running fast, reacting fast. Good net game. Complete player, I would say. Yeah, it wasn't easy out there to face him and come up with some good solutions."

    Tsitsipas - who hit 25 aces - displayed some of his oft-seen frustration as he struggled to stay on top of his opponent, and was asked if his hardest obstacle was Kolar or himself.

    "I guess both today," he said. "I had a lot of opportunities, break points, playing quite well, staying within the game. He was coming up with some really good ideas and I think dealt with all of the situations so maturely, not overexaggerating anything. He's an intelligent player, I would say.

    "Look, last year there were moments where it was about me and the way I deal with situations on the court, not focusing that much on who is on the other side. It's all about perspective. It's sometimes good to focus on what you are doing, but also if you're not feeling great, you have to see the other side too."

    Having rallied from two sets down to beat Lorenzo Musetti in the first round, and now being made to work hard by Kolar, Tsitsipas will now face Mikael Ymer after the Swede beat 29th seed Dan Evans on Thursday.

  • French Open: 'We are responsible for our racket' – Alexandrova heated after racket slam incident in loss French Open: 'We are responsible for our racket' – Alexandrova heated after racket slam incident in loss

    Ekaterina Alexandrova said the "rules were against" her after she lost to Irina-Camelia Begu at the French Open, where her Romanian opponent accidentally hit a child in the crowd with her racket.

    The incident occurred in the third set of the second round match on Thursday, with Begu slamming her racket in frustration after a lost point, inadvertently bouncing it off the court's surface and into the crowd, where it struck the youngster.

    Begu has since apologised, calling it "embarrassing".

    There was a short break in play as officials and supervisors checked on the crying child, before ultimately deciding to give Begu a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.

    Once play resumed, Begu immediately broke Alexandrova's serve, and won six of the next eight games to seal a 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-4 victory.

    In an Instagram post after her loss, Alexandrova expressed her disappointment, suggesting the rules had been against her.

    "So disappointed to leave [Roland Garros] like that, I was trying to do my best, but seems like the rules were against me today," she wrote. "This shouldn't be happening. 

    "I hope after today's match rules will be improved for everyone's safety. We are responsible for our racket."

    Speaking to the media after her win, Begu was apologetic for her actions.

    "Well, it's an embarrassing moment for me. I just want to apologise," she said. "My whole career I didn't do something like this, and I feel really bad and sorry. 

    "So I'm just going to say again, sorry for the incident and, yeah, it was just an embarrassing moment for me.

    She added: "It was a difficult moment because I didn't want to hit that racket, you know. 

    "You hit the clay with the racket, but you never expect [it] to fly that much. 

    "It was, as I said, embarrassing moment for me, and I just want to end it and not talk about it."

  • French Open: Halep reveals panic attack in Zheng defeat French Open: Halep reveals panic attack in Zheng defeat

    Former world number one Simona Halep says she suffered a panic attack during her second round match with Zheng Qinwen, contributing to her early French Open exit.

    The 2018 Roland Garros champion became the latest big name to make a shock departure from Paris inside the first week after blowing a first set lead to lose 2-6 6-2 6-1.

    It marked a major scalp for the unseeded Zhang, who previously lost to Halep in January, and was arguably the biggest win of the Chinese teenager's career at her competition debut.

    But Halep, who looked to be in cruise control early on, revealed she suffered an unexpected setback that threw her rhythm in her post-match comments, though she has now recovered.

    "I was playing well at the start," she stated. "I had a break in the second set, but then something happened. I just lost it.

    "It was just a panic attack. I didn't know how to handle it, because I don't have [them] often. I don't really know why it happened, because I was leading the match. I was playing well

    "After the match, [it] was pretty tough.  But now I'm good. I'm recovered, and I will learn from this episode. It's good that now I can smile."

    On her overall time at Roland Garros, Halep admitted she was happy to come through it unscathed, adding: "Tomorrow is a new day. 

    "I know it's like a cliche, but it's a new day, and I'll wake up motivated to keep working. [I've] no injury, which is really good. Now I'm in a good place."

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