An undercooked Medvedev looks to beat the heat in a bid to win the Australian Open title

An undercooked Medvedev looks to beat the heat in a bid to win the Australian Open title

MELBOURNE – Daniil Medvedev will be the favorite when he faces Emil Ruusuvuori at the Australian Open on Thursday, but the Russian will have to contend with his lack of preparation and the weather as he seeks his first title at Melbourne Park.

The Australian Open is still one of the few tournaments held on hard courts, in which Medvedev has not yet won any title, after losing in two consecutive finals to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in 2021 and 2022.

This season, the 27-year-old has skipped warm-up tournaments and headed straight to Melbourne, a decision that appears to have worked against him as he struggled in warm conditions during his first-round match against Terrence Atmani.

An exhausted Medvedev eventually took the lead when his French opponent retired due to injury.

“I feel, for whatever reason, I don’t know, that the conditions at the Australian Open are a little worse than some other tournaments,” the world number three told reporters before the second-round match with Finland’s Ruusuvuori.

“At the same time, I reached two finals, and I was very close to winning one. So I really hope that I can show my best tennis here at least once, and win it.

“It’s the first tournament of the year. Even if you have a friendly tournament, it’s still the start of the year, so the feelings are different.”

Elsewhere, Carlos Alcaraz will face Lorenzo Sonego at Rod Laver Arena, and although the Italian has a 1-0 winning record over the second-seeded Spaniard, a lot has changed since the last encounter between the two in 2021.

“He was really young. He’s different now,” Sonego told ATPTour.com. “He was (out of the top) 50 in the world. Now he is No. 2. Yes, he has improved a lot in tennis, and I need to do my best to beat him.”

Before Alcaraz and Sonego meet, the action begins on the main show floor where world number one Iga Swiatek takes on former finalist Danielle Collins.

While the four-time Grand Slam champion has a 4-1 head-to-head record with the American, her only defeat to Collins came in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park two years ago.

Another delicious encounter in the women’s singles sees local hopeful Ajla Tomljanovic take on 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

They had an ugly exchange at Wimbledon in 2021 when the Australian accused her of faking the injury to get a medical break, but Tomljanovic insisted that there was no longer any bad blood, saying: “What happened, happened.” Reuters

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