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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, April 12, 2023


Daniil Medvedev swept Lorenzo Sonego 6-3, 6-2 scoring his 25th win in his last 26 matches to set up a Monte-Carlo clash vs. Alexander Zverev.

Photo credit: Getty

Labels can be limiting and Daniil Medvedev continues shattering stereotypes.

The self-described "hard-court specialist" continued his strong spring surge sweeping Lorenzo Sonego 6-3, 6-2 in his first clay-court match of the year in Monte-Carlo.

Djokovic: The Next Big 3

Fresh off defeating Jannik Sinner in the Miami Open final for his 19th career title, a red-hot Medvedev scored his 25th victory in his last 26 matches.

Launching his quest for his fifth title of the season, Medvedev raised his record to an ATP-best 30-3 scoring his 17th consecutive victory over an Italian.

Still, the surface switch leaves Medvedev, who has won 18 of his 19 titles on his beloved hard courts, feeling a little bit unsettled.

"On clay it's much more difficult for me to feel the game," Medvedev told the media in Monte-Carlo. "After the match, it's difficult for me to say if I played well or not, but I was told I played well, and the score was okay with me.

"I felt in control during the match. I'm very happy. This makes me confident for the next match. It's going to be a tough one. It's going to be a big test against [Alexander] Zverev, so I'm happy today."

Though Medvedev, who suffered four straight French Open first-round losses before his 2021 quarterfinal run, has downplayed his skills on clay in the past he does own a dirt win over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Despite some success, Medvedev insists he doesn't like the dirty work.

"Anyway, I don't like clay, and even if I win matches, I prefer hard courts," Medvedev said. "But I will do everything to win all the matches."

The third-seeded Medvedev improved his 2023 Masters 1000 record to 11-1 setting up what could be a fierce Monte-Carlo showdown vs. Olympic gold-medal champion Alexander Zverev.

Earlier, Zverev zapped 11 aces and saved two of three break points in a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.

The 13th-seeded Zverev is more comfortable on clay than Medvedev and it shows in his results. Zverev has won six of his 19 career titles on clay, including three Masters 1000 crowns on dirt: 2017 Rome and 2018 and 2021 Madrid.

Overall, Medvedev holds a narrow 7-6 edge over Zverev in their head-to-head series, including a wild 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-5 Indian Wells win last month. This will be the pair's first meeting on clay.

"There are other players. Tsitsipas won twice here, but indeed we had many big matches, Sascha and I," Medvedev said. "Sometimes when one of us wins, he goes to the final or wins the tournament.

"So we had big battles and I know he likes clay, so I will need to be very good tomorrow to try to beat him."

The winner of Medvedev vs. Zverev will advance the quarterfinals.

Tennis Express

Earlier, American No. 1 Taylor Fritz fought off four set points and a pro Stan Wawrinka crowd stopping the three-time Grand Slam champion 7-6(10), 6-2.

It was Fritz's 50th career Masters 1000 victory as he raised his 2023 record to 21-6. Playing with poise under pressure, Fritz fended off two set points from 15-40 down to hold for 6-all and force a first-set tiebreaker.

In the breaker, Fritz saved a third set point at 8-9 with a stinging serve then dodged a fourth break point when Wawrinka netted a nervy inside-out forehand holding a 10-9 lead.

Battling through a physical point, Fritz fired a forehand winner down the line for his fourth set point at 11-10. Wawrinka was in charge of the ensuing point, but a scrambling Fritz belted a backhand pass down the line. Wawrinka, possibly playing an out ball, nudged a stretch forehand volley into net at Fritz snatched an hour-long opening set.

"Of course I have regrets. I was able to have set points in the first set, and I was able to get into the match and adapt to his game, but unfortunately I hesitated," Wawrinka said. "I was not so confident.

"I didn't have enough victories behind me, so I find myself hesitating, not deciding what I was going to do, and this was not good."

Next up for Fritz is a round of 16 meeting vs. talented Czech Jiri Lehecka.

The eight-seeded Fritz won his lone encounter with Lehecka at United Cup in January.


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