Back on track? Medvedev fires 22 aces to top Gasquet in St. Petersburg

Back on track? Medvedev fires 22 aces to top Gasquet in St. Petersburg

The defending champion rallied for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory over the Frenchman on Wednesday to set a second-round meeting with Reilly Opelka.

When Daniil Medvedev arrived in St. Petersburg last September, he was in the form of his budding career.

During the 2019 North American hard-court swing, Medvedev reached four consecutive finals, including the US Open and picked up his first ATP Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati. His scintillating stretch of success continued, as the Russian captured his first title on home soil and added another Masters 1000 crown in Shanghai a short time later.

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Back in St. Petersburg this week, the defending champion finds himself in a different position. While he returned to the semifinals of the US Open, the revised tour calendar saw a shortened European clay-court season staged afterwards. Medvedev would lose five of the six sets he played on red dirt to bow out in his Hamburg and Roland Garros openers.

Looking to get back to the winner's circle for the first time in a year, Medvedev fired off 22 aces in rallying past Richard Gasquet, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, on Wednesday to open his title defense. After dropping the first set, the top seed didn’t face a break point the rest of the way and took apart the Frenchman in their deciding set by winning all 11 of his second serve return points.

With the win, Medvedev evened his head-to-head series with Gasquet to 1-1, as the two squared off for the first time since 2018 Montpellier (Gasquet won, 6-0, 6-3). The world No. 6 will take on Reilly Opelka in the second round. The American overcame 308th-ranked qualifier Nino Serdarusic, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, in one hour and 34 minutes.

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Earlier, second seed Denis Shapovalov dispatched lucky loser Viktor Troicki, 6-2, 6-3. Cam Norrie was the first player to move into the quarterfinals, topping Miomir Kecmanovic, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-3.

In the final match of the day, three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka defeated wild card Evgeny Donskoy, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, to join Norrie in the final eight. Wawrinka finished runner-up at the event to Alexander Zverev in 2016.