Daniil Medvedev, the World No.5 and the first seed at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille, lost the first set 1-6, but recovered just in time and won the next two 6-1, 6-2 against the promising Italian teen Jannik Sinner in his opening round encounter on Thursday, and will now meet Gilles Simon in his upcoming quarter-final clash on Friday.
While Medvedev showed some signs of rustiness in his win over Sinner, the 35-year-old veteran Frenchman was impressive in his twin straight-sets victories over Alijaz Bedene and Harold Mayot in his opening couple of rounds.
On the ATP tour, Simon leads Medvedev 2-0 in their head-to-head record so far. However, their upcoming quarter-final meeting is going to be their first-ever clash on the hard courts as their previous two meetings have been on grass at the Queen’ Club in 2019 and on clay at Lyon, back in 2017.
24-year-old Medvedev had a remarkable season in 2019 and was a torchbearer of the younger generation last season as he found a place in six consecutive finals in the second half of the year, post the Championships, Wimbledon. It was indeed a coming of an age year in 2019 for the young Russian as he won four titles including the two Masters 1000 titles at Cincinnati and Shanghai, and almost crafted a sensational and dramatic come from behind victory against Rafael Nadal in the final at the US Open in New York.
After recording four straight victories in singles for Russia at the ATP Cup at the start of this season, Medvedev succumbed to the relentless Novak Djokovic in three sets in the semi-finals at Sydney, and just when it appeared that the Russian was going strong at the Australian Open as well, he fell short in the quarter-final against Stan Wawrinka, squandering a two sets to one lead against the veteran Swiss to slowly crumble in their five-set contest at the Rod Laver Arena.
At the Open 13 quarter-final in Marseille against Simon, Medvedev would consider this as an opportunity to regain his best form, especially after falling to Canadian Vasek Pospisil in straight sets in the opening round at Rotterdam just a week ago.
For the veteran Frenchman, Simon, this is his 14th appearance at the Open 13 Provence and he has won two titles so far in Marseille, first in 2007 and then in 2015. Coming into this tournament, Simon has been out of form for a while now and his last memorable performance on the tour dates back to June last year when he reached the finals at the Queen’s club in London, defeating Medvedev in their titanic semi-final tussle before losing to Feliciano Lopez in the title clash.
Medvedev has become an even improved player now than what he was when he took on the Frenchman in London last June, and it would take a monumental and an inspired effort from Simon if he fancies upsetting the first seed in the upcoming quarter-final clash.
Can Medvedev overcome Simon to stay in the hunt for achieving his first title of the season in Marseille or will Simon stun the Russian to enter his fifth semi-final at his home tournament?
It would be interesting to follow how the story unfolds in the Medvedev-Simon battle as an intense quarter-final awaits us in Marseille.
Prediction: Daniil Medvedev to win in three sets.