Home crowd now backs No. 2 Medvedev, because of French coach

PARIS — Daniil Medvedev had never been past the first round at the French Open before.

And his surprise reward for reaching the fourth round now is that he’s carrying the hopes of the French crowd.


Because there are no French players left in the men’s or women’s draw, and Medvedev happens to have a very successful French coach.

Gilles Cervara has helped the 25-year-old Russian win 10 titles on the ATP Tour and reach No. 2 in the rankings.

After Medvedev’s 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win against American Reilly Opelka, he conducted his interview on Court Suzanne-Lenglen in French. He was told by the interviewer he’ll now get huge support at Roland Garros because of Cervara.

The crowd then broke out into spontaneous chants of “Daniil, Daniil” and Medvedev, who speaks English and French fluently, waved and thanked them.

“I hope you will be with me up until the final,” he said, grinning. “Thanks for supporting me today.”

Big-serving and big-swinging, Medvedev has lost major finals — at this year’s Australian Open and the 2019 U.S. Open — on hard and fast surfaces.

Clay never suited him before, but people change.

“When I was young I never ate fish, like I hated it. Now I love tuna,” he said. “So, yeah, this year I’m enjoying myself in Roland Garros. I don’t hide it.”

He next faces No. 22 Cristian Garin of Chile.


Serena Williams is far more dominant on grass than clay, winning seven titles at Wimbledon compared with three at the French Open.

But that doesn’t change her enjoyment at Roland Garros.

“I love sliding. I love the speed … I feel like I have more time to get to balls,” she said after a 6-4, 6-4 win against American countrywoman Danielle Collins on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Another thing that pleases Williams about playing on clay is contrast.

“I was looking at some pictures and its just so cool to see the feet next to this dirt,” she said. “The dirt looks so uneven and yet it’s so smooth. It’s really cool.”

The seventh-seeded Williams, who won her most recent Roland Garros title in 2015, is chasing a 24th major to move level with Margaret Court for the most singles championships for women or men in the Open era.

The 39-year-old American faces 21st-seeded Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the fourth round.


Tamara Zidansek might have been tackling the slopes at the Winter Olympics in snowboarding, rather than swinging a racket at Roland Garros.

There’s a simple reason the Slovenian chose tennis instead.

“Because I was really cold snowboarding. Oh my God, I don’t like the cold weather at all,” the 23-year-old Zidansek said after beating Katerina Siniakova 0-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2.

This is the farthest Zidansek has gone at any major tournament.

When she was growing up, she was far closer to snow than clay.

“We lived like 20 minutes away from a ski resort. It was just normal for us to go there every weekend,” Zidansek said. “It was fun to do at first, and then I saw an opportunity to make something out of (tennis). So I just went for it.”

Now she’s one win away from the quarterfinals.


Fabio Fognini hurt himself with his hot temper during a third-round loss to Federico Delbonis.

The 27th-seeded Fognini required treatment from a trainer after bloodying his right hand — his playing hand — by punching his racket strings in frustration multiple times early in the second set of the 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 defeat.

That came after the Italian was warned by the chair umpire for foul language during the first set.

“Today I played poorly at tennis and he played well, and it’s only fair that I lost the match,” Fognini said.

Karen Khachanov was the victim of a similar incident on Wednesday, cutting his right middle finger by hitting his racket strings in anger during a five-set loss to Kei Nishikori.

Delbonis reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career, in his 27th major.

Dampf contributed from Rome.

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