Daniil Medvedev sent an early message that this US Open might be more than a two-man race between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic.
The 2021 champion rolled into the second round Tuesday, beating Attila Balazs 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 in just 1 hour, 14 minutes.
“That’s probably the fastest three-set match I played,” Medvedev said.
About 12 hours after Djokovic won easily in his return to the US Open, the No. 3-seeded Medvedev looked just as impressive as when he beat Djokovic for the 2021 title to deny the 23-time major champion from Serbia what would have been the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969.
“Of course we know that the biggest, let’s say, players right now are Carlos and Novak,” Medvedev said. “But, well, they have to win their matches also to meet me, if I’m there. Same works for me.”
Medvedev certainly has the game to compete with either on the hard courts of the U.S. Open, where the Russian was also the runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2019 before winning his first major two years later.
The women’s No. 3 seed, Jessica Pegula, also moved on quickly with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Camila Giorgi.
The schedule also featured a number of veteran U.S. Open champions. Venus Williams, 43, who won two of her seven Grand Slam singles titles at Flushing Meadows, was scheduled to play before Alcaraz on Arthur Ashe Stadium against qualifier Greet Minnen of Belgium.
Andy Murray, who won the 2012 U.S. Open title, advanced in straight sets but needed nearly three hours to do it, beating Corentin Moutet 6-2, 7-5, 6-3.
“It was a long one, but the way that we play it was probably always going to be like that,” Murray said, joking that it was still shorter than many of his matches these days at age 36.
Stan Wawrinka, who won the trophy in 2016, followed Murray’s victory on the Grandstand.
No. 5 seed Ons Jabeur, who lost in last year’s final to Iga Swiatek, was checked by a trainer and was coughing and blowing her nose during her match before getting past Camila Osorio 7-5, 7-6 (4). She said she has the flu and a history of asthma, calling it a “a very, very tough day.”
“To be honest with you, I just thought: Just put the ball in and see what happens,” Jabeur said.
She found a way through, unlike Leylah Fernandez, the runner-up in 2021, who was eliminated by No. 22 Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4.
Also ousted was No. 7 Caroline Garcia, a 2022 U.S. Open semifinalist who was routed 6-4, 6-1 by Chinese qualifier Wang Yafan. But Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, the No. 9 seed, advanced easily by knocking out qualifier Na Lae Han 6-3, 6-0 in an hour.
Other seeded winners on the men’s side included No. 12 Alexander Zverev and No. 16 Cam Norrie. No. 11 seed Karen Khachanov, who reached the semifinals last year, lost 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 to American wild card Michael Mmoh; and No. 29 Ugo Humbert of France was swept by Matteo Berrettini, the 2021 Wimbledon runner-up, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
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