Medvedev glides past Serbian into last-32 stage

 - Dan Imhoff

Second seed weathers Djere onslaught to set Kecmanovic showdown

Daniil Medvedev, 2e tour, Roland-Garros 2022©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

Daniil Medvedev is a man at ease outside his comfort zone in Paris this year.

The second seed flew past Serbian Laslo Dejere into the third round on Thursday, a surface on which he politely admitted he had not always enjoyed an overly prosperous relationship.

Ahead of a return to Court Philippe-Chatrier for his tussle with the world No.2, Serbian Djere laid down a marker.

Roland-Garros was his favourite major and rightly so.

It was not intended as an all-out warning to his rival, more based on the wins next to his name on red clay.

It may have been a disparity of 54 spots in the rankings between the pair but it made for a dangerous match-up.

Fellow 26-year-old Medvedev was playing just his third match since a hernia operation, while the Serbian entered Roland-Garros with nine wins from his past 14 matches on clay across qualifying and main draws.

Daniil Medvedev, R2, Roland-Garros 2022Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

While left to rue a rare chance at beating his nation’s greatest sportsman, Novak Djokovic, on home soil in Belgrade last month, there were positives Djere carried from that match to Paris.

Story of the match

On Thursday, the more natural clay-courter, Djere, settled faster and landed an immediate break, but from 2-0 the margins on his more aggressive approach began to shrink as Medvedev slowly found his range.

The second seed remained troubled by his opponent’s authoritative baseline blows despite having turned the set in his favour and throughout the second, Djere had him on a string, more often than not brought unstuck as a result of pushing for too much once he created the opening.

That was not to detract from Medvedev’s unyielding defence, but when he resorted to back-to-back net approaches to successfully fend off a break at 3-4, it raised a question.

Was this a quietly confident man out of his comfort net-rushing on clay, or a man out of his comfort desperate to change it up in a bid to keep his free-swinging foe at bay?

That confidence came with becoming a Grand Slam champion at Flushing Meadows, while having also finally snapped his winless Roland-Garros streak in his fifth attempt en route to the quarter-finals last season.

Whichever the reason it didn’t hurt as he charged to a two-set lead after an hour and a half.

Only the finer details separated the pair and after a 15-and-a-half-minute struggle, Medvedev broke on the Serbian’s fourth double fault early in the third.

Djere’s fate was only compounded as his condition worsened deep in the set and after two hours and 35 minutes, the baton passed to his compatriot, 28th seed Miomir Kecmanovic, in an attempt to stop Medvedev’s progression to the fourth round.

Daniil Medvedev, 2e tour, Roland-Garros 2022©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

Key stats

While Medvedev’s 28 winners were nine fewer than the hyper-aggressive Serbian but his vastly superior consistency proved telling with just 26 unforced errors to his opponent’s 68.

The second seed was far more effective against Djere’s second serve, claiming 29 of 39 points.

What the winner said

“Today, honestly I think Laslo was playing better clay-court tennis but I managed to fight, to put one more ball in the court than him. It was a very tough match ... but I'm happy to win.

“I don't know if it was cramps or maybe some injury, so I was like ‘try to make him play more balls’ and … he started to take the ball a little more early so either he makes a mistake or he makes a winner most of the time. I was not confident because it's only one break, it's a clay court so one break is nothing.

“If he breaks, the pain can go away a little bit, the crowd would be behind him. It's definitely not easy.”