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Medvedev cruises at French Open as Paris struggles to escape Wimbledon shadow

Medvedev routed Argentina’s 103rd-ranked Facundo Bagnis today.

Daniil Medvedev.
Daniil Medvedev.
Image: Matthieu Mirville/Dppi

WORLD NUMBER TWO Daniil Medvedev eased into the French Open second round on Tuesday but could not escape the shadow of Wimbledon, the Grand Slam tournament where he has been declared persona non grata.

Medvedev, who came into Paris with just one match on clay this year following hernia surgery, routed Argentina’s 103rd-ranked Facundo Bagnis 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 on the back of 35 winners and eight breaks of serve.

“I love Roland Garros, especially since last year,” said Medvedev, who had lost in the opening round on his first four trips to Paris before reaching the quarter-finals in 2021. “I hope this year I can go further.”

One place he will not be going, however, is the All England Club next month after Wimbledon banned all Russian and Belarusian players in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

The ATP and WTA responded by stripping the sport’s most prestigious tournament of ranking points.

One day after former world number one Naomi Osaka said she was “leaning towards not playing” Wimbledon while defending champion Novak Djokovic said he will play — despite losing 2,000 points — in what he described as a “lose-lose situation”, the controversy showed no signs of abating.

“I will go there to get my prize money, as I would for an exhibition tournament,” said Frenchman Benoit Paire after a 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 loss to Ilya Ivashka in which he hit 24 double faults.

“The ATP should defend the majority of players, not four or five players.”

Denis Shapovalov, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2021, said he objected both to the ban and the decision to strip the points.

“I think they could have gone with it a different way, maybe keep 50 percent like they have in the past or some kind of fairness,” said the Canadian.

Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, admitted she was also in two minds over Wimbledon.

“If there are no points, I’m not really sure what I’m going to do,” the Latvian 13th seed said after beating Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti.

The biggest loser on the women’s side will be the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova who will drop the 1,000 points she gathered by finishing runner-up to the now retired Ashleigh Barty in 2021.

- ‘Love the game’ -
She too wants at least 50% of the points to be retained. She still intends to return to the All England Club.

“If you love the game you’re still going to go and play,” said 2017 Paris semi-finalist Pliskova after making the second round by beating Tessah Andrianjafitrimo 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Meanwhile, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a former Australian Open runner-up and world number five, bid an emotional goodbye to tennis after losing in the first round to Casper Ruud.

The 37-year-old Tsonga was beaten 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 7-6 (7/0) by the Norwegian eighth seed.

“I hope the world can soon find as much peace I found today. Thank you Roland Garros. Thank you Mister Tennis. I love you,” said Tsonga.

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With a brass band blasting out ‘La Marseillaise’ at intervals, Tsonga delighted the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier by taking the opening set, but Ruud, who won the Geneva title last week, hit back to claim the next two sets.

Elsewhere, 19-year-old Holger Rune of Denmark marked his main draw debut with a 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) dismissal of 14th-seeded Shapovalov.

“I didn’t really show up today,” said Shapovalov, who committed 53 unforced errors.

Slovakia’s Alex Molcan defeated Federico Coria of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a second round clash against defending champion Novak Djokovic. World number 38 Molcan is coached by Marian Vajda, the former coach of Djokovic.

Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost last year’s final to Novak Djokovic after leading two sets to love, has a dangerous assignment against Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in the night session on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, who is working with Serena Williams’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou, faces Germany’s Nastasja Schunk, an 18-year-old lucky loser from qualifying.

Spanish third seed Paula Badosa, a quarter-finalist in 2021, takes on France’s Fiona Ferro.

– © AFP 2022

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