French Open: Medvedev finds groove on clay, Djokovic wins late-night thriller

<span>Daniil Medvedev has compiled a unique record at Roland Garros with five first-round losses and three visits to the last 16 and beyond.</span><span>Photograph: Mateo Villalba/Getty Images</span>
Daniil Medvedev has compiled a unique record at Roland Garros with five first-round losses and three visits to the last 16 and beyond.Photograph: Mateo Villalba/Getty Images

In Daniil Medvedev’s eight career appearances at the French Open, his performances have ranged from catastrophic to impressive with nothing in between. He continued to build his profile as a contender by returning to the fourth round of the French Open for the first time since 2021 with a hard-earned 7-6 (4), 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 win over Tomas Machac.

Related: French Open 2024: Zverev survives huge scare in Griekspoor five-setter – as it happened

As Medvedev has learned to embrace clay-court tennis, still far from his favourite surface, he has compiled a unique record in Paris. The Russian has suffered five first-round losses, including on each of his first four appearances. Each time he has passed the third round, though, Medvedev has reached the second week.

Medvedev did so again by staying solid in all of the tight moments, neutralising the Czech’s backhand and clean ball striking with his excellent defence and solid serving.

The match included a bizarre sight as an injured pigeon landed on the court during a changeover in the fourth set. The chair umpire, Damien Dumusois, picked up the pigeon with a towel and held it in both hands before handing it off to another staff member.

Novak Djokovic joined Medvedev in the fourth round after coming through a late-night ordeal against Lorenzo Musetti, eventually winning 7-5, 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-4, 6-0.

With rain stopping play on the outside courts again, organisers decided to move Grigor Dimitrov’s suspended match against Zizou Bergs under the roof on Court Phillippe Chatrier – but that ended up pushing the night match start time back to 10.40pm after Dimitrov came through in four sets.

Having edged the first set, the defending champion slipped 2-1 down but dug deep to haul himself level. Despite his irritation at a time violation with the clock ticking towards 3am, Djokovic won the final set to love, sealing victory at 3.08am.

“I need to say congratulations to Lorenzo, it’s a shame someone had to lose,” Djokovic said after the match. “He played an incredible match and was very, very close to winning. It’s very difficult to sleep with all the adrenaline, but I will try.”

Meanwhile, a day after Alexander Zverev’s appeal over him allegedly physically abusing his ex-girlfriend, Brenda Patea, began in Berlin, the German returned to court with a comeback win as he defeated Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3) to reach the fourth round.

After leading by two sets to one, Zverev trailed 1-4 to Griekspoor in the final set. But the Dutchman has never beaten a top five opponent or reached the fourth round of a grand slam tournament and, as he tried to break new ground, he succumbed to his nerves and will have to wait for Wimbledon for another shot. Zverev used his experience to recover both breaks before easily winning the tiebreak.

In the women’s draw, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina marched on, both powering through from an early deficit. Rybakina, the fourth seed, recovered from a one-break deficit against the 25th seed Elise Mertens before winning 6-4, 6-2.

Sabalenka, the second seed, trailed 3-5 in the opening set against her friend Paula Badosa before rolling through 10 of the subsequent 11 games to reach the second week with a 7-5, 6-1 win.

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Mackenzie McDonald and Marcus Daniell earned about £4,000 each for five minutes work after the pair retired from their second round match at the French Open after playing four points. On another day at Roland Garros ravaged by rain, McDonald and Daniell took to the court against Mate Pavic and Marcelo Arévalo once play resumed. The teams played the opening game, with McDonald and Daniell losing it to love before taking a medical timeout.

After some time, a physio entered the court and briefly spoke with Daniell, a former Olympic bronze medalist, before the pair retired. According to the rulebook, a doubles team that withdraws from the tournament will only receive prize money from the previous round. By starting their second round match before retiring, McDonald and Daniel were entitled to second round prize money of £23,400.