Tennis: Medvedev storms into third round after cruising past Rinderknech

Daniil Medvedev beat France's Arthur Rinderknech 6-2, 7-5, 6-3. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev maintained his strong start to his US Open title defence on Wednesday, dispatching France's Arthur Rinderknech 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 in the Arthur Ashe Stadium to reach the third round.

After an inconsistent run-up to Flushing Meadows, Medvedev gained momentum after his straight-sets win over Stefan Kozlov in the first round on Monday and picked up where he left off against Rinderknech.

"In general, I'm happy with my level in the third set," Medvedev told reporters.

"At the end of the match, it was getting better and better.

"At the same time, a win is the most important. Try to get out as early as possible even if it is pretty late. Looking forward to the next round."

Medvedev frustrated Rinderknech with his flawless shot placement and pounced on the Frenchman's serve to keep him pinned back on the baseline, while also saving all three break points he faced as he controlled the contest from the start.

The Russian capitalised on several unforced errors from Rinderknech to easily clinch the opening set and although he faced greater resistance from the world No. 58 in the second, he was able to break through and prevent a tiebreak.

Medvedev dictated play with penetrating groundstrokes and got the crucial break in the third set by claiming the fifth game, before racing to victory in two hours and 11 minutes as the clock ticked past midnight in New York.

"It's not so easy to play when you start at 10pm," said Medvedev, whose match began after Serena Williams beat Anett Kontaveit in three sets.

"I had some experience, so I was ready. I tried to find a way to play my best tennis. That's for sure what happened in the first set."

"Arthur was a little bit slow, made some double faults and some unforced errors. Then I managed to keep the momentum going."

Medvedev, who won his maiden Grand Slam title a year ago, has now won 20 of his last 22 matches at the year's final Major.

The 26-year-old is bidding to become the first men's player to clinch consecutive US Open crowns since Swiss great Roger Federer swept the tournament each year between 2004 and 2008.

Awaiting Medvedev in the third round will be Wu Yibing, who became the first Chinese man to reach the third round at Flushing Meadows after beating fellow qualifier Nuno Borges of Portugal 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

"He seems to play great," Medvedev said of Wu.

"I'm expecting a tough match and will need to be at my best."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.