Medvedev into Australian Open second round, laments ‘impossible’ schedule

Russia's Daniil Medvedev in action during his first round match against Switzerland's Henri Laaksonen

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in action during his first round match against Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen in the Australian Open on January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

MELBOURNE—Daniil Medvedev conserved his energy after his shortest ever off-season with an efficient straight-sets win over Swiss battler Henri Laaksonen on Tuesday to reach the second round of the Australian Open.

U.S. Open champion Medvedev, favored to win the title at Melbourne Park following Novak Djokovic’s deportation, had only 14 days’ rest at the end of 2021 before firing up for Russia’s run to the ATP Cup semifinals this month.

The cramped tennis schedule has been a bugbear for players for years, with many complaining of the physical toll, but Medvedev could see few solutions.

“It’s impossible, and yes, it’s definitely not enough (off-season),” the Russian told reporters after his 6-1 6-4 7-6(3) win in the afternoon sun at Rod Laver Arena.

“If you want to represent your country every year in Davis Cup and if you are every year in the finals, well, it becomes impossible.

“So you’ll have to sacrifice something. Sometimes your body will tell you what you have to sacrifice, sometimes you will have to decide.

“And it’s not easy decisions because many people will be against your decisions.”

Medvedev had little need to test his fitness on Tuesday as he cruised through the first two sets against world number 91 Laaksonen.

The Finland-born Laaksonen dragged him into a proper dog-fight in the third set and produced scintillating tennis to keep in touch in the tiebreak but ultimately faltered with a pair of unforced errors to concede three match points.

Medvedev converted the first of them to seal victory on his return to centre court a year after he was destroyed by Djokovic in the 2021 final.

Medvedev, who turned the tables on Djokovic in the U.S. Open decider to claim his first Grand Slam title, said he would have loved to test himself against the nine-times champion Serb again at Melbourne Park.

“I remember last year where I was like, ‘Well, okay, that’s a good challenge, trying to stop him’. (I) was far, far away from doing that,” he said.

“So, yeah, actually I like challenges, so I would love to have this chance again to play him maybe in the final or something like this here in Rod Laver.

“Even if he beat me or not, it’s a good challenge and I like challenges in my career.”

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