Daniil Medvedev began discovering a hidden liking for clay at the Madrid Masters on Wednesday as the second seed emerged with a comeback win to open his dirt season.

The Russian who could mathematically close the ranking gap on the absent No. 1 Novak Djokovic with a combination of titles and semi-finals in Madrid and next week in Rome, kicked off his clay campaign 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 over Spain’s Alejandro Davidovic Fokina.

The win took two and a quarter hours, the three set victory sets up a third-round encounter with Chile’s Christin Garin, a 6-3, 6-4 winner over German Dominic Koepfer.

Medvedev has long complained about tennis on clay and has lost in the first round all four times he has competed at Roland Garros.

His victory in Madrid ended a six-match losing run on the surface dating to April, 2019.

Medvedev broke Davidovich Fokina five times at the Caja Magica in front of a COVID-limited attendance of 1,500 fans allowed in per day.

He was joined as a winner by Dubai champion and Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev, who defeated seventh seed Diego Schwartzman 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Victory was the second this season for fellow Russian Karatsev, who also beat the Argentine in February in Melbourne.

“I’m losing more matches than the years before,” Schwartzman said, “I’m losing matches against the guys who are in the really top this year. 

“Obviously I’m not playing my best, but the guys who I’m playing are the best right now in this year.”

Main photo:-Daniil Medvedev winning in Madrid by Corrine Dubreuil ©ATPTour.com

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