Medvedev Wins First Match As World No. 1

Daniil Medvedev (photo: ATP Tour video)

INDIAN WELLS/WASHINGTON, March 13, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

As Day Four of the BNP Paribas Open unfolded in the Southern California palm desert Saturday, Daniil Medvedev took to the Stadium 1 court at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the first time since climbing to the top of the ATP Rankings.

While the World No. 1 is among four Russian men competing in the 96-player draw stripped of their country designation and flag following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month, it didn’t seem to affect his concentration on the court.

Medvedev started strongly against 21-year-old Czech qualifier Tomas Machac and coasted to a 70-minute 6-3, 6-2 victory in their first head-to-head meeting. He did it with an economical 17 winners to 11 unforced errors and outpointed the 158th-ranked Machac 63-39. It improved his record to 13-3 and moved him a step closer to a possible semifinal showdown with No. 4 seed Rafael Nadal, who followed on Stadium 1 against Sebastian Korda during a star-studded afternoon of tennis.

“I think it [being No. 1] is a lot of pressure, but at the same time a lot of motivation,” Medvedev said during during his pre-tournament news conference earlier in the week. “I’m going to try to do my best. It’s the same every tournament you play, try to gain as many points as possible.”

During a court side interview following the match, Medvedev said it “felt great” to be back at Indian Wells. “I’m happy that I can play tennis, I can play my favorite sport and I’m always trying to do my best on the court. There’s so many matches during the year, so sometimes, it’s not always easy. Today, I managed to keep calm, stayed consistent and managed to win.”

Next, Medvedev will play No. 26 seed Gaël Monfils of France, who defeated Serbia’s 40th-ranked Filip Krajinovic, 6-3, 6-4. Medvedev’s best Indian Wells finish came last year when he reached the fourth round.

“It’s a tough tournament, it’s a tough draw and conditions are not like some tournaments where I come and know I will play good,” Medvedev admitted. “Sometimes, you have to suffer, it’s a good challenge. I’m going to try to play my best tennis.”

Nadal withdraws from Miami but stays focused on Indian Wells

A couple of hours before his scheduled second-round match against the 21-year-old American Korda, the World No. 4 Nadal announced he had withdrawn from the upcoming Miami Open by Itaú. It’s a means of the Spaniard being able to manage his foot and also preserve his 35-year-old body before the start of the European clay season, which begins next month.

Against the 38th-ranked Korda, who arrived in the second round after defeating Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis, 6-3, 6-4, on Thursday night, Nadal pulled off the great escape, winning a 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (3) thriller that lasted two-and-a-half hours and kept the Stadium 1 fans on the edge of their seats.

Nadal and Korda are no strangers. Besides being practice partners on Tuesday, Nadal beat Korda at the French Open two years ago. However, the NextGen rising star had Nadal on the ropes in the final set – ahead a double-break lead at 5-2 – and let it slip away after twice serving for the match. With the victory, Nadal remained undefeated at 16-0.

Statistically, Nadal was far from perfect. He served eight double faults and won just 61 percent (37 of 61) of his first-serve points. His serve was broken four times. However, Nadal also broke Korda four times and outpointed him 95-90. Next, Nadal will play No. 27 seed Dan Evans of Great Britain, who easily advanced with a 6-2, 6-0 win over No. 69 Federico Coria of Argentina.

During his post-match news conference, Nadal admitted he felt lost … “and in Australia, very similar feeling. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to keep trying or keep fighting.

“Even if I think I’m going to lose the match, my mindset before returning that 5-2 games is ‘OK, I am playing bad, I had two breaks, but even if I’m going to lose, I’m going to try to finish the match having some better feelings.’ So, I need to fight to find these better feelings in that last game.”

Nadal added: “I feel very, very lucky today to be through, honestly. Sebastian was playing some fantastic tennis and I’m sorry for him. He had chances, but that’s tennis. He’s very young, he has an amazing future. I wish him all the best.”

Korda was asked what lessons he learned from playing Nadal. “A lot. I kind of proved to myself that I can play with anyone,” he said. “I have a really big game. Now, I just kind of got to use the momentum that I built here and keep working hard and just try and break that barrier of beating the top-level players, and hopefully just keep on going.”

Defending champion Badosa begins title defense

Reigning women’s champion Paula Badosa of Spain, seeded fifth, began her title defense with a 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory over No. 42 Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic to move into the third round. It was her seventh straight win at Indian Wells and the first time she had prevailed over Martincova after losing three straight times.

From 3-all in the second-set tie-break, the World No. 7 Badosa won four of the final five points. She hit 20 winners and broke Martincova three times. Badosa outpointed her opponent 76-59 during the one hour, 35 minute match on Stadium 1.

“So nice to be back,” Badosa said on court, crediting the crowd with pulling her through her victory. “It was very tough match, I had never won a set [against Martincova]. I knew I had improved a lot and it would be a different match [than the last one]. I got extra motivated and I knew I wanted to do very well here. I really went for it. …

“Coming here as the defending champion is never easy. I was nervous. I want to do well. Of course I have pressure. Mentally, I was very focused today.”

Next, Badosa will play fellow Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, ranked 36th, who rallied for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory over 85th-ranked qualifier Kaja Juvan of Slovenia.

Sabalenka becomes highest women’s seed upset

No. 46 Jasmine Paolini of Italy is only 5-feet-3-inches tall, but she’s got one of the biggest hearts in the game. Saturday afternoon on Stadium 2, the Italian upset No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, in an hour and 47 minutes in the second round for her first Top 10 triumph in her fourth try.

“I’m so happy,” Paolini said beaming a huge smile during her on-court interview afterward. “I didn’t expect this moment. I’m just happy to be here in the third round. I think I played an amazing match. The crowd was amazing. I enjoyed it very much.”

Paolini won her first WTA tour-level singles title last year in Portoroz, then rose to the Top 50 earlier this season. Beating Sabalenka represents the highest-ranked player she’s beaten this year, and it was the third time this season she’s come back to win after losing the first set.

Next, Paolini will play No. 31 seed Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland in the third round for a berth in the round of 16. The 51st-ranked Golubic defeated No. 47 Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Day Four highlights


• Defending champion Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, seeded 12th, advanced over Spain’s 49th-ranked Pedro Martinez, 6-3, 6-3, to set up a third-round meeting with last year’s finalist Nikoloz Basilashvili. The 18th-ranked Georgian earned a walkover win against No. 36 Fabio Fognini of Italy.

• No. 13 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada set up a third round meeting with No. 17 seed Reilly Opelka of the United States with his 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over No. 45  Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain. Opelka defeated No. 56 Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, 6-1, 6-4.

• No. 15 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, pulled out a 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5) victory over 209th-ranked qualifier  J.J. Wolf of the United States and will be the next opponent for fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz. The 19th-seeded Alcaraz had a quality win over No. 59 Mackenzie McDonald of the United States, 6-3, 6-3.

Other winners advancing include: No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 8 seed Casper Ruud, No. 10 seed Jannik Sinner, Jenson BrooksbyBenjamin Bonzi and wild card Nick Kyrgios.


• No. 4 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia advanced to the third round with a solid 6-4, 6-1 win over No. 77 Kristina Kucova of Slovakia. Next, she will oppose No. 30 seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who beat No. 88 Magdalena Frech of Poland, 6-1, 6-3.

• No. 6 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece set up a third-round match against No. 27 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic. Sakkari beat another Czech, No. 55 Katerina Siniakova, 6-3, 7-5, and Kvitova pulled out a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4 victory against No. 59 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.

• No. 20 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium easily beat the last remaining Ukrainian, No. 54 Marta Kostyuk, 6-2, 6-1. Next, she will meet 410th-ranked Australian qualifier Daria Saville, who pulled off a 7-5, 6-7 (0), 6-4 victory over No. 9 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.

• Other winners advancing include: No. 13 seed Victoria Azarenka, No. 17 seed Elena Rybakina, No. 18 seed Leylah Fernandez, No. 21 seed Veronika KudermetovaShelby Rogers and qualifier Marie Bouzkova.

Saturday’s BNP Paribas Open results

Sunday’s BNP Paribas Open order of play

By the numbers

Chinese qualifier Shang Juncheng checked a lot of boxes at this year’s BNP Paribas Open. Although the 17-year-old Chang lost his first-round match Friday to fellow qualifier Jaume Munar of Spain, 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 41 minutes on Stadium 7, Shang became:

• First Chinese man to play main draw of BNP Paribas Open.

• Youngest men’s player in the main draw at Indian Wells since Donald Young, 16, in 2006.

• Youngest men’s qualifier at Indian Wells since the start of the ATP Tour in 1990.

• Youngest qualifier at an ATP Masters 1000 event since Rafael Nadal, 16, at Hamburg in 2003.

“Quotable …”

“I have always been able to find a way to adapt my game when I have needed to become better. Some days, I have played aggressively, some days I have played a little more defensively and more tactically.

“My serve has been working well, which is important at this stage in my career. Then, I think I have been brave enough to play with the right determination when needed. I am just working hard to continue to improve, but I am happy with the level of tennis and intensity I am showing on court.”

Rafael Nadal of Spain, who is enjoying a career-best start and has won his past 20 consecutive sets dating back to the Australian Open.