Daniil Medvedev overcame “some of the worst” conditions he has ever played in to reach the second round of the Tokyo Olympics tennis tournament on Saturday as Novak Djokovic prepared to launch his bid for a gold medal.
Second-seeded Medvedev saved a set point in the second set before securing a 6-4, 7-6 (10/8) victory over world number 40 Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan under a scorching sun in Ariake Tennis Park.
The 19,900-seat venue, home to 11 outdoor courts and the centerpiece of the Ariake Coliseum court, was nearly empty, with fans being barred from nearly a handful of Olympic venues in Tokyo due to strict Covid-19 rules.
Medvedev, appearing in his first Games, defeated Bublik in the opener of the match and edged up a very close second set to book a round-of-16 clash with Indian Sumit Nagal.
“This is one of the worst (conditions)… I’m not going to lie, but you have to play. It’s the Olympics, you’re aiming for the medal. You are not here to mourn the heat, it was really difficult for both of us, ”said Medvedev.
“It’s unbelievably hot. You have to get through it and be the winner. “
The Polish Iga Swiatek, Roland-Garros 2020 champion, needed a little over an hour to dismiss Mona Barthel, ranked 172nd, 6-2, 6-2.
Sixth seed Swiatek, in the same quarter draw as Japanese star Naomi Osaka, will face Spain’s Paula Badosa or Kristina Mladenovic for a place in the round of 16.
“It was really hot like everyone else says,” said Swiatek, whose father Tomasz competed in rowing at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
“Even though I’ve been training here for a few days now, a game is totally different because the stress comes and the conditions are different, you feel everything twice as much.
“I’m pretty happy to be in the second round. Not only the humidity and the temperature were harsh, but also the sun. “
– Osaka game reorganized –
Defending Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova advanced when her Kazakh opponent Zarina Diyas retired 5-2 in the first set.
# photo1Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, finalist of the French Open defeated last month, inflicted a crushing defeat 6-0, 6-1 to the Italian Sara Errani, finalist 2012 in Paris.
Osaka was originally scheduled to kick off the tournament against China’s Zheng Saisai, but her match was postponed for 24 hours after being chosen to light the Olympic cauldron at Friday’s opening ceremony.
“Without a doubt the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life,” Osaka wrote on social media.
The four-time Grand Slam champion will return to court after an eight-week hiatus after dropping her Roland Garros campaign on mental health grounds and then skipping Wimbledon.
World number one Djokovic is the clear favorite for the men’s title as he draws closer to a Golden Grand Slam schedule.
The Serb will face Bolivian Hugo Dellien in the first round of an event where half of the top 10 male players are missing, including 2008 Olympic champion Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Djokovic, a 2008 bronze medalist, hopes to emulate Steffi Graf’s 1988 feat of winning the Golden Slam after already winning the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year.
Andy Murray, the reigning two-time gold medalist in singles, started his fourth Olympics by combining with Joe Salisbury to eliminate French second seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-2 in men’s doubles .
Murray, now ranked 104th, faces ninth-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round of the singles.
© 2021 AFP