Bearing in mind the weather conditions which have hampered Eastbourne, it is not surprising to find that some of the big names are preparing for Wimbledon on the holiday island of Mallorca.
Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now. It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance Daniil Medvedev
The likes of Daniil Medvedev, the world No.2, and Dominic Thiem, the world No.5, top the draw while Novak Djokovic is testing himself for the defence of his Wimbledon title, by playing the doubles at the inaugural Mallorca Championships.
Both Medvedev and Thiem have confidence issues going into The Championships which Medvedev was happy to face following his second round 6-4 6-2 victory over Frenchman Corentin Moutet, a late replacement for Argentina’s Federici Delbonis.
“I like to play on grass, I just need to get some confidence in my game on the surface, because we didn’t play [on it] for two years,” the Russian said.
“Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now. It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance.
“In Halle, I had three days of practice, which was definitely not enough to feel good,” he added. “I lost my first round against a great player (Jan-Lennard Struff), so it [was] not easy, [and] that is why I decided to come to Mallorca to try and get some more matches.”
“It is a really strong field here,” Medvedev said and pointed out that that playing a minor event prior to a major can be a positive move.
“Everyone said to Novak Djokovic, ‘Why are you going to Belgrade [the week before Roland Garros]?’ But he gained a lot of confidence there. I don’t think he played his best tennis there, but then he came and destroyed everyone at Roland Garros, so I think sometimes it can be good just to prepare ahead of a Grand Slam and win some matches.”
Medvedev got off to a slow start against Moutet on the centre court of the Santa Ponsa Tennis Academy, dropping serve early and trailing 0-3 as he struggled to handle the Frenchman’s drop shots and low-bouncing forehands.
But once he found his rhythm, Medvedev began firing winners off both wings as he reeled off the last five games of the opening set to take the lead.
Medvedev carried his momentum into the second set, where he didn’t face a break point in seven games as he chipped away at the Frenchman’s defences.
After taking a double-break to lead 5-2, the Muscovite ran into a late wobble as Moutet saved two match points and created three break opportunities.
That comeback was cut short by an ace while a long forehand return error dealt with the second and converted the third for his first win in Mallorca after an hour and 23-minutes.
Medvedev faces Casper Ruud in the third round, the Norwegian having dispatched Gilles Simon of France 6-4 7-6(4) in the opening round, and then Tennys Sandgren of the US 6-2 6-4 in the second, the American having overcome Jaume Munr of Spain 7-6(3) 7-5 in his opener.
World No. 29, Russia’s Khachanov fought past French qualifier Lucas Pouille 7-6(7) 3-6, 6-4 in two hours and 17-minutes hitting 13 aces to set up a clash with Spain’s veteran Feliciano Lopez in the second round.
The 39-year-old Lopez, who has won four of his seven ATP Tour titles on grass, defeated fellow Spaniard Nicola Kuhn 6-1 7-6(4) is aiming to record his 500th career win against Khachanov.
In other action Italian Stefano Travaglia defeated Argentina’s Guido Pella 7-5 7-6(4), and Slovakian qualifier Lukas Klein overcame World No. 41 Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, the eighth seed, 6-4 7-6(2). Former World No. 35, Czech Jiri Vesely who replaced Nick Kyrgios in the draw, beat Italy’s Salvatore Caruso 7-6(2) 6-2.