World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev progressed to the quarterfinals of the China Open with a hard-fought win over Australia’s Alex de Minaur in Beijing on Saturday.
The Russian navigated an awkward first set before triumphing 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 and will face either compatriot Andrey Rublev or Ugo Humbert of France in the next round.
Medvedev led 5-2 in the first set but errors crept in and he needed a tie-break to see off a stirring comeback from the 12th-ranked de Minaur. He found his range in the second set, securing an early break before taking his second match point with a fierce volley.
Medvedev told AFP issues with the match balls contributed to his up-and-down performance.
“As soon as you play some shots with them, they go very big, much (fluffier)... it becomes like a grapefruit,” the 27-year-old said.
“We’re basically playing 30-shot rallies because it’s almost impossible to hit a winner,” he said, adding that the problem made injuries more likely.
“With these balls, you have to be 100 percent on every point, until the last point of the match. I managed to do it well so this, I’m happy about.”
Earlier, Nicolas Jarry battled to a marathon victory to set up a potential quarterfinal with Alexander Zverev, who plays later on Saturday.
The unseeded Chilean triumphed 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 over Italy’s Matteo Arnaldi in a three-hour match.
Tournament favourite and world number two Carlos Alcaraz will play Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in round two after dispatching qualifier Yannick Hanfmann on Friday.
The China Open is taking place for the first time since 2019 after the government lifted its strict zero-COVID policy. Most of the top male players are in action with the notable exception of 24-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic.
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