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Daniil Medvedev rises to the occasion in Melbourne opening victory
The Australian Open’s de facto top seed claimed his eighth consecutive Grand Slam win to move into the second round.
Published Jan 18, 2022
WATCH: Daniil Medvedev (RUS) speaks with media following his 2022 Australian Open first round win.
World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev barely put a foot wrong as he took the first step in his quest to win his first Australian Open trophy, marching past Henri Laaksonen 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3) on Tuesday.
A lot has changed since the Russian’s last appearance in Melbourne Park. The 25-year-old is now a Grand Slam champion, winning the 2021 US Open title with a resounding win over Novak Djokovic in the final. The 20-time Grand Slam champion won’t be awaiting Medvedev in the final—as he was in New York and in Melbourne last year—after Djokovic’s troubled exit amid visa issues.
But one thing that has always stayed the same is Medvedev’s ruthless and clinical hardcourt game, and it was on full display during his triumphant return to Rod Laver Arena. The second seed served up 10 aces and won 79 per cent of points behind his strong first serve en route to victory.
"I like pressure," Medvedev said afterwards. “I like to play here, I like hard courts… [I] always want to do better than I did last year, but it’s not going to be easy."
Medvedev moved into the second round, where he could next face Aussie home favorite Nick Kyrgios in an early blockbuster. Kyrgios faces British qualifier and Australian Open debutant Liam Broady.
No. 91-ranked Laaksonen, who arrived in Melbourne at a career-high, broke the Medvedev serve in the opening game—but his only lead in the match would be short-lived. Medvedev quickly broke back to love, and reeled off the next five games in a row to claim the opening set in 27 minutes.
As his opponent grew in confidence in the second and third sets, Medvedev calmly kept the pace. He weathered Laaksonen’s surge by leaning on his big serve to keep him in control—Medvedev didn’t face any break points in the final two sets as he closed out the match in just under two hours.
“He started playing better. He was touching a lot of the lines,” Medvedev said of Laaksonen in the third set. “He was controlling the game, hitting full power every shot he had… I was like okay, I wait.”
Medvedev is seeking his second Grand Slam trophy in Melbourne, as well as the chance to write his name in an elite part of the tennis history books. Victory at the end of the fortnight would make Medvedev the first man in the Open Era to win his second major title in his next Grand Slam appearance. Most recently, Naomi Osaka became the sixth player in history to achieve this feat after winning the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open titles.