Daniil Medvedev began his pursuit of the No. 1 ATP Ranking on Tuesday when he defeated Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-4 at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presented by HSBC. If the Russian wins the ATP 500, he is guaranteed to pass Novak Djokovic for the top spot on Monday regardless of the Serbian’s performance this week in Dubai.
In his first match since a heartbreaking defeat to Rafael Nadal from two sets up in the Australian Open final, Medvedev overcame a tricky foe in Paire. The top seed rallied from a break down in the second set to triumph after one hour and 42 minutes.
“It’s always not easy to come back after some rest and some time off competition,” Medvedev said. “Sometimes [it is] better, sometimes [it is] worse. I felt like my sensations were not at the top today, but I managed to fight until the end against a very tough opponent and I’m happy that I managed to win. “
The World No. 2 now leads Paire 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series after a performance in which he earned four service breaks and converted three of the four break points he faced. Medvedev will next play Spanish veteran Pablo Andujar or Mexican wild card Alex Hernandez, a 22-year-old ranked World No. 566. The 2020 Nitto ATP Finals champion said the chase for No. 1 is not at the top of his mind.
“If Novak would not be playing, then maybe it would be a little bit more in my mind because it would only be me that it depends on what I can do,” Medvedev said.
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The 26-year-old Medvedev was not flawless in his performance against Paire, but he was more consistent, which proved critical. The World No. 49’s unpredictable play also contributed to that as the Frenchman surged in the second set between frequent net rushes and powerful backhands. His flurry would have troubled any player on Tour.
Medvedev showed frustration after he fell behind 2-4 in the second set. But once he got back on serve, Paire’s level significantly dropped and the tournament debutant broke at love to close out the match.
In other action, fifth seed Matteo Berrettini won the first set against American Tommy Paul 6-4. But after Paul took a 5-1 lead in the second set, Berrettini retired. The World No. 39 Paul will next face Serbian Dusan Lajovic.
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Medvedev is pursuing his first title of the year this week. The 13-time tour-level champion has claimed multiple trophies in each of the past four seasons.