Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev responds to the crowd after the withdrawal of his injured opponent Terence Atmane. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS
  • tennis

Feisty Medvedev downs cramping French qualifier at Open

Callum Godde January 16, 2024

Daniil Medvedev’s New Year’s resolution to turn over a new leaf on court didn’t last long despite the Russian coming from a set down to win through to the Australian Open second round.

Returning to Melbourne Park without playing a lead-up tournament, the world No.3 conceded the opening set to French qualifier Terence Atmane on Monday.

But he wrested control of the encounter and was leading 5-7 6-2 6-4 1-0 in hot conditions on Margaret Court Arena when Atmane retired with cramps.

Terence Atmane
 An emotional Terence Atmane was treated for cramps and finally retired against Daniil Medvedev. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

“(It was a) tough match,” said Medvedev.

“He played well. I played bad in the beginning of the first set.

“I am happy that then I managed to regain the momentum and actually when I started feeling tough physically he started cramping. 

“I (have) cramped many times like this. This time it was for him and if he plays like this he can do big things.”

The frustrated Frenchman was reduced to hitting underhand serves and burst into tears but miraculously limped on before retiring early in the fourth set.

Medvedev will face Emil Ruusuvuori in the second round after the Finn also came from a set down to beat American wildcard Patrick Kypson 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-4).

The rangy Russian has enjoyed his running battles with crowds, particularly at the Australian Open and US Open, where he has a combined five finals appearances for one title.

Before this year’s tournament, Medvedev admitted he had fuelled his pantomime villain persona through his past actions but said he wanted to mature and change his ways.

Daniil Medvedev
 Two-time runner-up Daniil Medvedev makes a point during his first round clash. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

The former world No.1 was mostly on his best behaviour but could not resist motioning to his ear for the crowd to applaud after a reflex volley winner, the same gesture made by Atmane following a critical first-set point.

Medvedev also repeatedly complained about the temperature of his on-court water, saying it was becoming too hot as the mercury neared 30C at Melbourne Park.

“I don’t need a cold beer,” he told an official.

Last year’s runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas was similarly sloppy early in his first-round clash with lucky loser Zizou Bergs, dropping the opening set before prevailing 5-7 6-1 6-1 6-3 in just under three hours.

Stefanos Tsitsipas
 Stefanos Tsitsipas was untidy early before overcoming lucky loser entrant Zizou Bergs. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

The seventh seed came into the Open under a fitness cloud, withdrawing from the ATP Finals in November and Greece’s United Cup opener earlier this month with a back complaint.

Bergs replaced 2022 semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini in the draw after the Italian suffered a right-foot injury.

Elsewhere, Chile’s Nicolas Jarry became the first seed knocked out of the men’s draw with a gruelling five-set loss to Italian Flavio Cobolli.

Swiss great and 2014 Open champion Stan Wawrinka appeared on track for a date in the second-round before French 20th seed Adrian Mannarino came back to win 6-4 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-0.

Five-times runner up Andy Murray fared no better, bowing out to 30th-seeded Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-4 6-4 6-2.

Andy Murray
 Andy Murray acknowledges the crowd after his Open first round exit Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

American No.29 seed Sebastian Korda survived a scare from Czech qualifier Vit Kopriva, winning 6-1 6-4 2-6 4-6 6-2.

In his first slam appearance since Wimbledon following an injury-riddled 2023, Canada’s former world No.10 Denis Shapovalov was drubbed 6-3 7-5 7-5 by 18-year-old Czech Jakub Mensik.

Fellow Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime prevailed, but only just, in a five-set near five-hour epic against Austria’s Dominic Thiem  6-3 7-5 6-7(5) 5-7 6-3.  

Auger-Aliassime was 5-2 up in the third-set tiebreak for a routine straight sets win, but lost five successive points and was ultimately taken deep into the early hours before winning in one minute short of five hours.

Other men’s seeds to progress on day two were Italian Lorenzo Musetti, Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Russian Karen Khachanov and 2022 Open quarter-finalist Ben Shelton.

Shelton will meet Australian Chris O’Connell in the second round after his five-set win over Chilean Cristian Garín on Sunday.