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Second Round Showdown: Medvedev, Kyrgios Light It Up

In some ways, that more-than-month-long pause between Mallorca and Los Cabos felt like an eternity for Daniil Medvedev.

But the interruption to his usual regimens/rhythms/routines, which included sitting out Wimbledon, doesn’t seem to have done him any harm, at least when it comes to the on-court results. Last week, the reigning World No. 1 departed Mexico with trophy in hand, his first of the year, and he returns to the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers as the defending champion, healthy and eager for a repeat performance.

Of course, this summer stretch is usually when the 26-year-old summons his best tennis. It was here in 2019, after all, that he introduced himself to the tennis world at large, embarking on a remarkable stretch that would see him reach consecutive finals in Washington, Montreal, Cincinnati, Flushing Meadows, St. Petersburg and Shanghai. If there’s a Medvedevian stretch on the ATP calendar, the North American hard-court swing is most definitely it.

“I’m in great confidence right now,” said Medvedev, who missed another chunk of time earlier this year after undergoing hernia surgery. “That’s why I went to Las Cabos, because I wanted to see where I was after the clay-court and the grass seasons, which are very different. It’s good to come back on hard courts to know what your position is compared to the best players. I feel very confident and I feel good for the next tournaments.”

Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin

Following a first-round bye, Medvedev will jump right into it against a player who’s building up some confidence of his own: Nick Kyrgios, who advanced on Tuesday via a 6-4, 6-4 opening-round win over Sebastian Baez. Last month, the 27-year-old Aussie reached his first major final at Wimbledon, and last week wrapped up a title of his own in Washington. The 37th-ranked Kyrgios owns a 2-1 edge in ATP Head2Heads, though he dropped their most recent encounter earlier this year in the second round of the Australian Open, 7-6(1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

“I’m happy that I’m giving everyone what they want: Kyrgios v. Medvedev, second round,” said Kyrgios with a smile.

“It’s going to be hard, that’s for sure,” he continued. “I know physically and mentally I’m not as fresh as I would like. But he also came off a title last week in Los Cabos. He’s going to be feeling a little bit tired, too — I hope. But I’m going to do everything right. I’m going to get a good rest tonight, good physio, and I’m just going to give it my best shot. I’m going to go out there and have fun and try and play the best I can. It’s not a bad result if you lose to Medvedev. Most of the world does.”

Medvedev says the absence of the Big Three of Federer/Nadal/Djokovic this week won’t affect his outlook in the least.

“It doesn’t change anything for me,” he said. “When you play a tournament, you want to win it. Whoever you play in the final or the semis doesn’t matter. Of course, if you beat one of the top players in the world, the better-ranked players, those who’ve won Grand Slams, it’s always a good feeling. But the important thing is to win the tournament. It’s a thousand points. It’s a title. The trophy is the same whoever you play. It’s both things at the same time.”

World No. 4 Carlos Alcaraz of Spain — one of only two ATP Masters 1000 hard court champions this year — will make his tournament debut against American Tommy Paul. In reaching the Umag final in July, the 19-year-old became the second-youngest player this century to crack the Top 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, outpaced only by countryman Rafael Nadal. The No. 2 seed is seeking a tour-best fifth title on the year, adding to trophies from Rio, Miami, Barcelona and Madrid.

No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the 2018 final in his National Bank Open debut (l. to Nadal, 6-2, 7-6(4)), notching four Top-10 wins along the way. With the conclusion of clay and grass campaigns, he is one of only two players with a chance to win tour-level titles on all three surfaces in 2022. The Greek star’s first test will come in the form of British qualifier Jack Draper, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over fellow qualifier Hugo Gaston of France.

With Denis Shapovalov, Alexis Galarneau and Vasek Pospisil having all been knocked out of the draw, World No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime remains the lone Canadian hopeful in the draw. (There hasn’t been a homegrown champion since 1958, Robert Bedard, when the event was held in Vancouver.) The Rotterdam titlist is set to face Washington finalist Yoshihito Nishioka, against whom he’s 1-2 in ATP Head2Heads.


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