(Madrid) Russia’s Daniil Medvedev advanced to the third round of the Madrid Tennis Open on Saturday with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Italy’s Andrea Vavassori in his first match of the tournament .

The second seed and third in the ATP rankings, Medvedev dominates the men’s circuit in 2023 with four titles, all won on hard courts. He’s posted a 32-4 overall record since the start of the season.

Medvedev is seen as the main contender to overcome reigning champion Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz. Alcaraz had to fight hard on Friday to win their first match of the tournament, in three sets against Emil Ruusuvuori.

However, Medvedev is weighing his expectations as he is aware that clay is not his preferred surface.

“As always, I will do my best,” Medvedev said. “Today I felt very good on the court, and in the rallies I was in control which is very important on clay. »

Ranked 164th in the world, Vavassori had surprised Britain’s Andy Murray in the previous round.

The Italian offered quality play early in the game and forced Medvedev to save three break points. However, the former United States Open champion took control of the clash by breaking the last game serving his rival in the opening set.

The duel was briefly interrupted by a downpour, which was welcomed in Madrid which, like other cities in Spain, is mired in a deep drought.

In the next round, Medvedev will face qualifier Alexander Shevchenko, who eliminated Jiri Lehecka 6-1, 6-1.

In addition, two Americans were shown the way out in the second round. Ben Shelton, 38th in the world, first lost in three sets against the German Jan-Lennard Struff (65th), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5. Later, Tommy Paul (17th) lost in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6 (3) against Russian Roman Safiullin, ranked 112th in the ATP.

Saturday also marks the entry into action of Canadians Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov in second-round matches. At the start of the day, Auger-Aliassime took on the Serbian Dusan Lajovic while Shapovalov will face the Chinese Zhizhen Zhang.

On Friday, Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov teamed up and defeated Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2) in the first round of men’s doubles.

On the women’s side, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, the world’s No. 2 player, opened her tournament with a straight-set 6-4, 7-5 win over Camila Osorio.

Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu, Belgium’s Élise Mertens and Russia’s Liudmila Samsonova also won their respective matches in straight sets on Saturday.