ACAPULCO, Mexico — (AP) — Daniil Medvedev continued his pursuit of the No. 1 ranking with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Benoit Paire on Tuesday to advance to the second round of the Mexican Open.
The 26-year-old Russian can overtake Novak Djokovic for the top spot in the men’s tennis rankings if he wins the title here.
Medvedev, who won the 2021 US Open and was runner-up to Rafael Nadal last month at the Australian Open, is playing in Mexico for the first time.
“It’s not easy to come back after a bit of rest and some time out of competition,” said Medvedev, who rebounded from a crash in the second set for the win. “I managed to fight to the end against a very tough opponent and I’m happy that I managed to win.”
He will next face Pablo Andujar, who beat Alex Hernandez 6-0, 6-1.
If he wins this tournament, or if he reaches the final in Acapulco and Djokovic does not win the title in Dubai, Medvedev will become the first player other than Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray to hold the top spot. since 2004.
He admitted he was thinking about the milestone, but acknowledged it might not happen next week.
“I know in the next three tournaments it can be a possibility and that’s why I’m going to try to do it, because it’s not a dream anymore, it’s a goal,” he said. “And I will try to play well in the next three tournaments to achieve that.
The likely biggest challenge for Medvedev in Mexico could be fourth-seeded Nadal, who started with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Denis Kudla.
Nadal, who won three titles in Acapulco (2005, 2013 and 2020), next faces Stefan Kozlov on Wednesday.
Medvedev could meet Nadal for the first time since the Australian Open semi-final in Acapulco. Nadal rallied to win the final at Melbourne Park in five sets to claim the men’s record 21st Grand Slam singles title, breaking a tie with Federer and Djokovic. It also prevented Medvedev from becoming the first man in the Open era to win his second major title at the upcoming Grand Slam event.
Nadal first said after winning the Australian title that he considered skipping Acapulco to rest his body to play in Indian Wells but then decided to head to Mexico again.
“In recent years, I’ve played fewer tournaments… and now I do it where I want to, and at this stage of my career, it’s a place (that) makes me feel good” , said Nadal.
Unlike Medvedev, Nadal, 35, said the top finish was no longer something he dreamed of.
“That time has passed for me, I think all my physical issues have taken that chance away from me and I’m not pursuing that goal anymore, it would be a mistake for me to pursue it,” he said. do it by only playing in the tournaments that I can, I would be very happy.
He said that was unlikely, given the number and quality of young players who can compete in more tournaments than him.
In other matches on Tuesday, Tommy Paul qualified for a meeting with Dusan Lajovic when fifth-seeded Matteo Berrettini withdrew from their match in the second set with an abdominal injury, and Yoshihito Nishioka defeated Feliciano Lopez 2-6, 6-0, 6-4.
Berrettini, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals, won the first set 6-4 but trailed 5-1 in the second when he retired.
Cameron Norrie knocked out Daniel Altmaier 7-6 (5), 6-2 and will face John Isner on Wednesday. Marcos Giron advanced when John Millman retired in the second set.
The Mexican Open, a 500m tournament, is played on the hard courts of the GNP Arena in Acapulco, a popular tourist destination south of Mexico City.
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