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Medvedev eases through at French Open as Rune strikes teen blow

PARIS (AFP) – World number two Daniil Medvedev eased into the French Open second round yesterday as Denmark’s Holger Rune reminded Roland Garros that Carlos Alcaraz is not the only teenager dreaming of the title.

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.”

Rune, 19 and just a week older than the highly-rated Alcaraz, marked his main draw debut with a 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) dismissal of 14th-seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

Rune, the boys champion in 2019 and a former world junior number one, entered Paris at a career-high 40 having started 2021 outside of the top 400.

ABOVE & BELOW: Daniil Medvedev; and Holger Rune at the French Open in Roland Garros. PHOTOS: AP/AFP

In the current clay season, he won his first title in Munich, beating world number three Alexander Zverev on the way.

Shapovalov committed 53 unforced errors in a tie played at breakneck speed.

“I didn’t really show up today but Holger played great tennis,” said Shapovalov, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2021.

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. The 20-year-old, ranked 66, also led Djokovic by two sets in the last 16 in 2021 before injury curtailed his challenge.

This year on clay he made the quarter-finals in Marrakech and third round at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid where he was forced to retire against world number three Alexander Zverev.

However, Tsitsipas is enjoying an impressive clay court season in which he has successfully defended his Monte Carlo title, was runner-up in Rome and made the semi-finals in Madrid.

The Greek also enjoys a season-leading 31 wins on the tour this year.

Two former women’s champions were also in action. Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, who is working with Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, faces Nastasja Schunk, an 18-year-old lucky loser from qualifying, ranked at 165 in the world.

Jelena Ostapenko, who was a shock Roland Garros winner in 2017, defeated Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti 6-1, 6-4 to end a five-match losing streak having started the year winning 14 of 18. Ostapenko became the latest player to cast doubt on her appearance at Wimbledon after the tournament was stripped of ranking points in response to its banning of Russian and Belarusian players.

“If there are no points, I’m not really sure what I’m going to,” said the Latvian.

“I think maybe they are going to change their mind. I’m not sure about points. But I think a lot of things may happen within the next week or two weeks.”

Spain’s world number four Paula Badosa, a quarter-finalist in 2021, takes on France’s Fiona Ferro.

Before that match on Court Philippe Chatrier, French fans will possibly bid farewell to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the former world number five who will retire once his French Open campaign ends.

Tsonga, unseeded, lost the 2008 Australian Open final to Djokovic as the Serb claimed the first of his 20 Grand Slam titles.

He made it to the semi-finals twice at both the French Open and Wimbledon and finished runner-up to Roger Federer at the ATP Finals in 2011. “It’s a moment which I am sure will be full of emotion,” said the 37-year-old who takes on Casper Ruud, the champion in Geneva at the weekend.