Monday, July 4, 2022

Medvedev debuts as No. 1, Nadal wins at Indian Wells

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. ( Associated Press) — Daniil Medvedev beat Tomas Machac 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open, the Russian’s first tournament since ascending to No. 1 in the world.

Medvedev made quick work of his Czech opponent, finishing Machac off in just over an hour. The Russian won 80% of his first-serve points and saved the lone break point he faced.

Rafael Nadal didn’t have it as easy in opening his pursuit of a fourth title at Indian Wells. He got pushed to the limit by practice partner Sebastian Korda before winning 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (3), giving Nadal a 16-0 record this year.

“I started to play a little bit more crosscourt with my forehand and with having a little bit more of calm,” Nadal said. “He made a couple mistakes and I was able to save myself.”

Nadal won the Australian Open in January for his record 21st major championship, breaking a tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. He won other titles in Melbourne and in Mexico.

Nadal trailed 5-2 in the third set before winning four straight games with two breaks of Korda to take a 6-5 lead. Korda held at 6-all to force the tiebreaker. The 38th-ranked Korda led 3-2 and then Nadal reeled off five straight points to close out the 2 1/2-hour match.

“He’s one of the greatest players of all time. He’s super hot. Hasn’t lost a match this year,” Korda said. “To kind of push him to the edge was awesome. Shows a lot of my game, how dangerous it can be against tough opponents.”

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Before the match, Nadal withdrew from the Miami Open, which begins March 21. He is managing a chronic condition in his left foot.

Earlier this week, Medvedev received a trophy commemorating his status atop the ATP Tour rankings. He replaced Djokovic, who wasn’t allowed to enter the US to play because he’s not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Medvedev has to reach the quarterfinals in the desert to stay in the top spot.

“If I’m going to lose it because I’m either going to play a bad match or my opponent is going to play an amazing one, there is the next tournament in Miami,” he said. “That’s how tennis is, every week is a new story. Right now it’s Indian Wells week and I want to make it a good story.”

Medvedev is among players from Russia and Belarus competing at Indian Wells without flags, symbols or anthems as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision to eliminate their national identity was made by the International Tennis Federation and both tours.

“It’s definitely not for me to decide,” Medvedev said. “I follow the rules. I want to play my favorite sport.”

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Other seeded men’s winners were: No. 8 Casper Ruud, defending champion Cameron Norrie, No. 15 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 17 Reilly Opelka and No. 19 Carlos Alcaraz.

In women’s play, Jasmine Paolini upset second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round for the Italian’s first career win over a top-10 player. Sabalenka fired eight aces to go with 10 double faults.

“After the first set I didn’t expect to win the match,” Paolini said. “But then point by point I started to believe it. I started to hit better the ball, deeper on the court.”

Ranked 46th, Paolini won her first WTA Tour singles title last year and reached the top 50 after the Australian Open.

Defending champion Paula Badosa beat Tereza Martincova 6-2, 7-6 (4). Badosa’s title in the desert in October began her rise from 70th in the world to the top 10.

No. 9 Ons Jabeur lost to 409th-ranked Daria Saville 7-5, 6-7 (0), 6-4. Shelby Rogers, a quarterfinalist here last year, knocked out 10th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 7-5, 7-6 (7).

Other seeded winners were: No. 4 Annet Kontaveit, No. 6 Maria Sakkari and No. 27 Petra Kvitova.

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More Associated Press tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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