PARIS (Reuters) - Daniil Medvedev's first-ever victory at the French Open on Monday has banished any doubts the second seed may have had about his chances at the claycourt Grand Slam, filling him with confidence for the rest of the tournament.
The Russian beat Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik 6-3 6-3 7-5 on Monday, to finally win his first match at Roland Garros on his fifth attempt.
Medvedev plays best on hard courts, with clay his least favourite surface, but despite having lost in the first round during all four of his previous appearances in Paris, the lanky Russian mastered his nerves and turned in a dominant display.
"I feel really hopeful," he told reporters. "You could see it today in the match. If I lose here in Roland Garros it's probably going to be because my opponent plays really good. I feel very confident."
Bublik, the world number 37, made for a tricky opponent, and twice bamboozled Medvedev with underhand serves.
The Kazakh tried to serve and volley to counter the Russian's power from the baseline but was undone by his own inconsistency, making eight double faults, often at crucial times in the match.
Bublik also racked up 45 unforced errors compared to just 16 from Medvedev.
"I did 16 unforced errors today," Medvedev added. "This is a huge statistic. This is how I can make damage in slams and win great tournaments."
It was Bublik who made the brighter start, breaking Medvedev in his first service game to take a 2-0 lead, but the Russian broke back twice in a row before claiming the opening set.
Medvedev raced into a 4-0 lead in the second before Bublik pulled a break back. The Kazakh ramped up the pressure on Medvedev's serve once more but the Russian saved a break point to extend his lead to 5-2 before serving out the second set.
The third stayed on serve until Bublik broke to earn a 5-3 lead and a chance to serve for the set, but he wilted under the pressure, double faulting twice in succession to hand the break back and let Medvedev off the hook.
Medvedev capitalised in his opponent's next service game, breaking Bublik again before serving out the match in style, before acknowledging the sparse crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier with a wave of celebration.
"It feels great," Medvedev said.
"But the most important is the level of tennis I've been showing. I've actually played much better in practices, so there's room for improvement. Hopefully it can be only get better for the next rounds."
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Pritha Sarkar)