Former champion Daniil Medvedev was the forgotten man heading into the U.S. Open, but the third-seeded Russian popped up on everyone’s radar after crushing Attila Balazs 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 and storming into the second round at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday. With world no.1 and no.2 Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic grabbing the spotlight in the run-up to the season’s last Grand Slam, Medvedev had mostly gone unnoticed. But, with his methodical dissection of Balazs, he made it clear that he is still a legitimate contender for his second US Open title in three years.
Hungarian Balazs, who withdrew from playing tennis in 2014 and began coaching before resuming his career in 2016, had no idea how to deal with Medvedev, who was in complete control from the start, breaking the Hungarian at the first opportunity in all three sets.
Medvedev, who blasted 41 winners, appeared to be able to break his opponent at will, whilst Balazs failed to create a single break opportunity during the match. Balazs’ one bright spot came with Medvedev up 5-0 in the third set and serving for the match when he chased down a ball and fired a cross-court winner that the Russian applauded, while the crowd roared approval as the Hungarian broke into a big smile and raised his arms in triumph.
Medvedev won the fourth game with an ace and followed it up with a forehand down the line winner to take the match 5-0. In the sixth game, Daniil served for a bagel and the win, and he sealed the job with a serve and volley combo that advanced him to the second round. The thrill was fleeting, though, as Medvedev won the following point to advance to the next round, where he will face Australian Christopher O’Connell.
After falling in the Wimbledon semi-finals to eventual champion Alcaraz, Medvedev has had a quiet preparation for the US Open, reaching the quarter-finals of the Canadian Open and the round of 16 in Cincinnati a week later. However, Medvedev has consistently produced some of his best work in New York, reaching the final in 2019, the semi-finals in 2020, and winning it in 2021.
I don’t care it is normal Carlos and Novak are the biggest names right now, said Medvedev. My goal is to play well and get to where they are and try to win that is all I can do, the Russian added after registering a dominating victory.