Defending Vienna Champion Medvedev Wins Opener Quickly And Efficiently

Daniil Medvedev (photo: e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger)

VIENNA/WASHINGTON, October 25, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

Defending Erste Bank Open singles champion Daniil Medvedev has won 18 of his 20 career ATP Tour singles titles on hard courts, and all 20 of his titles have come at different events including in Vienna.

On Wednesday afternoon, Medvedev extended his Wiener Stadthalle winning streak from five matches to six with his 6-4, 6-2 first-round victory over 19-year-old French teenager Arthur Fils, last week’s Antwerp runner-up, who was seeking his biggest win of his career and third consecutive Top 10 win in his Vienna debut.

Instead, World No. 3 and top seed Medvedev needed just 75 minutes to defeat the 38th-ranked Fils in his first match since losing in the third round of the Rolex Shanghai Masters earlier this month, then going home to celebrate his daughter’s first birthday. He did so by dropping just three points on his first serve – five service points overall – and converting three of five break points, while outpointing his opponent by a comfortable 64-40 margin.

Medvedev’s final service game, in which he won at love and closed out the match with an untouchable, 125 miles-per-hour ace out wide, was a microcosm of how well his day went. It was quick and efficient. Medvedev finished with 16 winners to just eight unforced errors, while Fils was undone by 31 unforced errors.

“I was a little bit nervous coming into the match,” Medvedev said in his post-match interview with ATP Media. “Arthur wants this top win and he’s going to get it one day. But luckily I managed to serve well, play well, kind of work him out during the match and it worked, so I’m very happy.”

Medvedev found plenty of positives to praise Fils, too. “He’s super young, a big jump in the rankings,” he said. “Usually when we see guys like this, sooner or later he’s going to get in the Top 10. Then the question is, does he stay there for 10 years or he just comes there and drops out? We never know, but he has big potential and hopefully he can realize it.”

The victory for Medvedev was his 61st in 75 matches – including 44 on hard courts – and advanced him to play No. 17 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in Thursday’s second round.

This time, Sinner is a winner over Shelton

After second seed Jannik Sinner gained the only break of service by either player in his first-round match against recent Tokyo Open champion Ben Shelton, he clenched his fist in satisfaction and made eye contact with his coach, Darren Cahill, sitting in his player box nearby as he walked to his bench. Only then did the usually stoic, 22-year-old World No. 4 Sinner from Italy crack a smile.

The key service break, which came in the 11th game of the second set, enabled Sinner to serve for the match against the 15th-ranked American. He needed only to hold for the victory – and Sinner did just that to earn his 52nd victory of the season. It exacted revenge for his round of 16 loss to Shelton, 21, in Shanghai earlier this month in their first career meeting.

Sinner closed out his satisfying 7-6 (2), 7-5 victory over Shelton in an hour and 44 minutes by slashing a forehand winner on his second match-point opportunity. It was Sinner’s 28th winner of the contest against only six unforced errors and he overcame Shelton’s booming first serve, which produced 11 aces and 31 overall winners for the young Floridian.

“It was a very tough match. He always serves really well, and today was obviously the same,” Sinner said afterward. “He is confident, he is a very tough player to beat. I was looking forward to it. I lost the last matchup, so I’m happy that I won this one. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

“I wish him the best for the rest of the season, I think he will finish the season strong. I’m very happy about the performance and happy to be in the next round.”

The win advanced Sinner to face fellow Italian Lorenzo Sonego, ranked 52nd, in Thursday’s second round. Sinner has defeated Sonego three times in three meetings this season.

Zverev overcomes Norrie and moves on to quarterfinal round

World No. 10 Alexander Zverev‘s 51st victory of the season, over Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, was just his seventh win in 18 tries against Top 20 players after a 1-8 start. The fifth seed Zverev advanced to play either No. 3 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia or No. 46 Matteo Arnaldi of Italy, who play Thursday, in Friday’s quarterfinals after serving nine aces, hitting 24 winners and outpointing No. 18 Norrie 60-47.

Zverev is one of three former Erste Bank Open champions along with defending champ Daniil Medvedev and 2020 titlist Rublev.

Around the Erste Bank Open

•  In Wednesday’s opening match on Center Court, France’s Gaël Monfils extended his winning streak to six with a 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 47 Daniel Altmaier of Germany, in an hour and 26 minutes, to advance against No. 7 Francis Tiafoe of the United States.

The 2008 Erste Bank Open finalist, who returned inside the Top 100 this week at No. 89 after winning his 12th ATP Tour title in Stockholm on Sunday, improved to 9-2 lifetime in opening-round matches in Vienna. Monfils hit 23 winners and saved all five break points he faced from Altmaier, who was making his Erste Bank debut.

•  No. 37 Aslan Karatsev of Russia, three days removed from losing the Tokyo Open final to American Ben Shelton, bowed in the opening round to No. 77 Borna Gojo of Croatia, 6-3, 6-3, in 72 minutes. Gojo hit 19 winners and won 77 percent of his service points. Next, Gojo will face No. 6 seed Tommy Paul of the United States.

• No. 8 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia became the first player to advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round following his 6-3, 6-1 takedown of No. 31 Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic in 65 minutes. The 16th ranked Khachanov won 83 percent of his service points, faced no break points on his serve, and broke Lehecka four times. Next, Khachanov will face either top seed Daniil Medvedev or No. 17 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

• Top-seeded doubles team Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Neal Skupski of Great Britain were upset by French duo Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 10-4 in the opening round. No. 4 seeds Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen were also bounced from the tournament. The Belgium pair lost to Americans Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow, 6-4, 6-4.

Wednesday’s Erste Bank Open results

Thursday’s Erste Bank Open order of play

By the numbers

Defending champion Daniil Medvedev owns an ATP Tour-leading 44 hard-court wins this season and aims to successfully defend an ATP Tour title for the first time in his career. He is 18-2 in opening rounds in 2023.

“Quotable …”

“You win or lose close ones all at once, and I think it just becomes automatic. I’ve had a couple of tough losses recently, but I think that’s tennis and that’s just how you can learn from it and respond from it.”

Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, who defeated Austrian qualifier Filip Misolic in a three-set first round match Monday evening, as told to ATP Radio.