ATP St. Petersburg: Top Seeds Medvedev, Shapovalov Begin Campaigns with Wins
By Max Gao
(October 14, 2020) ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA (VIRTUALLY) — In another action-packed day at the Sibur Arena in St. Petersburg, No. 5 seed Stan Wawrinka and Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie both booked their place in the quarterfinals, while No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev and No. 2 seed Denis Shapovalov kicked off their respective campaigns with solid wins.
Wawrinka, Norrie Survive Three-Set Tussles to Advance to Last Eight
After saving triple match point in his first match of the week, former World No. 3 and three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka found himself in another three-set battle against wild card and home favorite Evgeny Donskoy.
Utilizing his heavy groundstrokes to keep his Russian counterpart on the defensive, Wawrinka started the match looking like a man on a mission, taking the opening set in less than half an hour. With his back against the wall, Donskoy quickly rallied and took the second set, as he began to swing more freely to prevent the Swiss from dictating most of the points. In the end, however, Wawrinka continued to apply pressure on the return while serving remarkably well, earning a break early in the final set before eventually closing out a hard-fought 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win in an hour and 42 minutes.
“I think, again, it was a great match. A tough opponent but my level was better from the beginning,” Wawrinka assessed in his post-match interview. “I think in the second [Donskoy] started to play a bit more aggressive, he was dictating a bit more the game and I think the level in general was great from both sides. I’m happy to get through. I think I played a really solid match tonight and I’m happy.”
Stan Wawrinka on Rafael Nadal’s historic victory at Roland Garros over the weekend and the GOAT debate that has only intensified in recent years: pic.twitter.com/trhEEZClFT
— Max Gao (@MaxJGao) October 14, 2020
Earlier in the day on the Centre Court, Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie won the longest match of the week, defeating Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic, 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-3, in two hours and 45 minutes. After a titanic first two sets, Norrie managed to grab a crucial break in the third game of the final set to give himself a little more breathing room and ultimately converted his fourth match point to overcome a spirited effort from the 21-year-old Serb.
Top Seeds Medvedev, Shapovalov Finally Start Week With Wins
After a few days off to start the tournament, No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev and No. 2 seed Denis Shapovalov both started their respective campaigns with solid wins.
Shapovalov kicked off proceedings on the Centre Court on Wednesday, needing just 62 minutes to sail past Serbian lucky loser Viktor Troicki, 6-2, 6-3, and earn his 15th win of the season. Serving 10 aces and dropping just four points behind his first serve (24/28), Shapovalov seemed to be in complete control of the match, breaking twice in each set and never facing a break point himself en route to securing a spot in the second round.
“I don’t think first round matches are easy, especially against Viktor,” Shapovalov said during his press conference. “I’ve already played against him a couple of times, and he is a very difficult opponent. In fact, it was a very tough match, I just think I played great today. I couldn’t have played better.”
With an 11-4 record to start the second part of this season, the Canadian will now face Ilya Ivashka of Belarus, with the winner set to face Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals.
After winning the title in St. Petersburg last year, Medvedev survived an early scare against former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet, rallying from a set down to see off the Frenchman, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0. While he seemed to struggle early on to find his range, particularly with his piercing backhand, Medvedev served extremely well when it mattered most, hammering 22 aces and dropping just three points behind his first serve in the last two sets (27/30). With his serve helping him to stay out of trouble, the Russian seemed to get better as the match progressed, eventually showcasing a masterclass of first-strike tennis to secure the victory in an hour and 37 minutes.
In the second round on Thursday, Medvedev will face big-serving American Reilly Opelka, who also came from a set down to defeat Croatia’s Nino Serdarusic, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-2.
On Court 1, Russian wild card Roman Safiullin earned a comprehensive win over Ecuadorian lucky loser Emilio Gomez, 6-4, 6-2, while France’s Ugo Humbert battled past Russian qualifier Pavel Kotov, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Safiullin will now face No. 7 seed Borna Coric in the second round, while Humbert will square off against No. 3 seed Andrey Rublev.
Bublik, Opelka Advance in Doubles Thriller
In doubles action, Opelka teamed up with Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik to edge out Rublev and Karen Khachanov, 6-3, 1-6, 11-9. Rublev and Khachanov, who beat the No. 1-seeded team of Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski on Monday, had triple match point in the super tiebreak but were unable to close it out, allowing Opelka and Bublik to steal the win and become the first team into the semifinals.
In other news, the all-French team of Adrian Mannarino and Fabrice Martin defeated Jonathan Erlich and Andrei Vasilevski, 6-3, 5-7, 10-8. Ben McLachlan and Franko Skugor teamed up for the first time to upset No. 4 seeds Max Purcell and Luke Saville, 6-3, 6-2.
Remaining Second-Round Matches to Be Completed on Thursday
With the tournament already reaching its halfway mark this year, the remaining second-round singles matches will all be completed on Thursday. On Centre Court, Shapovalov will kick things off in the afternoon against Ivashka, followed by Humbert vs. Rublev and Medvedev vs. Opelka. Khachanov, who is the No. 4 seed in the singles draw, will face compatriot Aslan Karatsev in the night session, followed by Bublik’s first meeting with No. 6 seed Milos Raonic. On Court 1, Safiullin will take on Coric in a battle of the 23-year-olds.
Tomorrow’s schedule in St. Petersburg:
— Max Gao (@MaxJGao) October 14, 2020
Max Gao is a freelance Canadian sports and entertainment journalist that is covering this year’s St. Petersburg Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow all of his reports throughout the week here and follow him on Twitter for live updates and exclusive, behind-the-scenes content from this year’s event: @MaxJGao.