Daniil Medvedev underlined his status as a hot favourite this week in the desert with a 6-4, 6-3 opening win against Brandon Nakashima on Friday night. The fifth seed entered the BNP Paribas Open as the ATP Tour’s most in-form player, winning three consecutive titles and 14 straight matches, and his winning streak — now at 15 — was never in jeopardy thanks to an assured performance against the San Diego native.
Nakashima gave his home crowd plenty to cheer about, firing big forehands and defending brilliantly at times, and even hitting a tweener that his opponent volleyed into the net in set two. But Medvedev had all the answers when he needed them, saving all six break points against him to secure the win in one hour, 26 minutes at the year’s first ATP Masters 1000.
“We had some good points,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview. “That’s probably the slowest hard court on the Tour. So many matches I see it’s like rallies, rallies, rallies, so we’re going to have some good points. There were some tough ones in the match, tough break-point saves. I’m happy that I managed to battle through.”
Medvedev won the opening set by breaking at love for 3-2, claiming the lone break point of the set, and he drove his advantage home with an instant break in set two. He then escaped 0/40 at 2-1 and 15/40 at 4-3 before wrapping up the win with his third break in seven chances.
“I feel like on such a court you cannot play your best tennis every point,” Medvedev added. “That’s why [there are] so many break points for everybody and so many opportunities. At the end of the day, you have to play your best… He also played great points so it was a good battle, especially more in the second set I would say.”
Medvedev will next face Ilya Ivashka, who moved past 28th seed Botic van de Zandschulp when the Dutchman retired while trailing 5-7, 2-3.
Earlier on Friday in Indian Wells, Alexander Zverev made an equally smooth start to his Indian Wells campaign with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Pedro Cachin. From 4-3 in the opening set, the German won seven straight games to move to the brink of victory.
Zverev fired seven aces in the win and saved both break points he faced — one in each set. He converted on four of six break points to secure the victory in a tidy one hour, 17 minutes.
The German meets Emil Ruusuvuori next after the Finn’s 7-6(5), 6-2 win against 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut. Beyond that, he could face a fourth-round meeting with Medvedev if both men advance.