Expectations continue to rise for Daniil Medvedev, who is given the night session men’s spot on Rod Laver Arena on Day 2 of the tournament. He has a tricky opener against Frances Tiafoe, who made the quarter finals last year.
Tiafoe comes into the tournament ranked 50, even with a quarter final to his name in Melbourne last year. He has failed to build on that run for the most part, falling back a bit after showcasing some flashy tennis over the past few years. It includes disappointing early losses at slams for the rest of the year, although the last of them to Alexander Zverev at the US Open can be forgiven. The American is on a four match losing streak going back to last year, with two this year to qualifiers in Doha and Auckland.
Medvedev was rated fairly well coming into the Australian Open last year at No.16 but his level of improvement has been dramatic over the past 12 months. The Russian has transformed into a slam contender in that time and may well feel he can make the final in this half of draw having already made the US Open final last year. Medvedev can keep it up with the best of them and is stamina in long matches is remarkable for a man of his 6ft6 stature. He did end 2019 with 3 losses in the ATP Finals but will be hoping that was only a blip rather than reflective of anything for 2020.
Medvedev may well feel aggrieved at such a potentially tough match to open his tournament but he is feeling confident. “It’s a great matchup. He was in the quarters here last year, again [he will be] super motivated. But I think it’s going to be a great match. Of course, I want to do my best to win it. Hopefully I can show some good tennis. [Playing] like this, I’m going to have my chances.” he said. Tiafoe has the game to stick with Medvedev for a while but it’s hard to see many keeping up with the No.4 seed over a lengthy 5 setter if that is what happens.
Prediction – Daniil Medvedev in four sets