It looked as though Daniil Medvedev could have been in trouble for about an hour. Last years’ top-seeded finalist faced an unleashed performing Marcos Giron. And even though winning the first set nothing was decided because Giron had a break point in the middle of the second.
But then you could see the difference between the world’s no. 3 and no. 57 at the OWL arena. When it matters, the top player speeds up or delivers exactly the right kind of shot. Medvedev had three match points and the US American gifted him the match by a double-fault after 71 minutes. But the score 6:4, 6:3 doesn’t really tell the story of what went on on the grass at Halle in the first match of the co-favourite.
Two players had truly found each other. They went about it with open sight and fought the shots across as though it was about setting up speed records instead of points. And a high-class match developed. It was obvious that the favourite was enjoying his brave opponent, laughed when he was duped by his creative operating opponent. Everyone held their breath a moment in the sixth game. Medvedev tried to get one of the many stops, slipped spectacularly and stayed lying on his back. Opponent and umpire came running, but the giant grinned and gave a sign to say all okay. He treated himself to a short break on the soft green, however. Shortly after that Giron in fact had a break point. The favourite then showed his class, however, fended it off and got a break himself. Overall his superb defensive qualities made the difference.
The players chased each other across the court like in the story of the hare and the hedgehog. Giron didn’t only play powerfully, but also smartly. He used his opponent’s extremely defensive position when returning by forcing him far outside with his service. That didn’t help in the end, though. At 4:3 Medvedev got a break again. It went quickly then.
“That was a really difficult task, I didn’t expect that on grass of him. He really played strongly“, the US Open champion of 2021 praised his opponent. Laslo Djere now waits in the round of 16.