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Medvedev sharp in first-round rout at US Open

NEW YORK — Daniil Medvedev sent an early message that this US Open might be more than a two-man race between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic.

The 2021 champion rolled into the second round Tuesday, beating Attila Balazs 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 in just 1 hour, 14 minutes.

“That’s probably the fastest three-set match I played,” Medvedev said.

About 12 hours after Djokovic won easily in his return to the US Open, the No. 3-seeded Medvedev looked just as impressive as when he beat Djokovic for the 2021 title to deny the 23-time major champion the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969.

Alcaraz, the No. 1 seed, is set to begin his title defense Tuesday night against Dominik Koepfer.

Alcaraz edged Djokovic for the title at Wimbledon, after Djokovic eliminated the Spaniard in the semifinals en route to the French Open title.

“Of course we know that the biggest, let’s say, players right now are Carlos and Novak,” Medvedev said. “But, well, they have to win their matches also to meet me, if I’m there. Same works for me.”

Medvedev certainly has the game to compete with either on the hard courts of the US Open, where the Russian was also the runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2019 before winning his first major two years later.

Andy Murray, who won the 2012 US Open title but is working his way back from multiple hip surgeries, advanced in straight sets but needed nearly three hours to do it, beating Corentin Moutet 6-2, 7-5, 6-3.

“It was a long one, but the way that we play it was probably always going to be like that,” Murray said, joking that it was still shorter than many of his matches these days at age 36.

John Isner, playing in his final event before retiring, showed he isn’t done quite yet. The big-serving, 6-foot-10 American swept past Argentina’s Facundo Diaz Acosta in straight sets in Louis Armstrong Stadium and was honored with an on-court tribute following the match.

Isner, 38, has won 16 singles titles during his career and has hit more than 14,000 aces, an ATP Tour record.

No. 19 Grigor Dimitrov lost the first two sets in tiebreakers before rallying past Alex Molcan in the deciding fifth set, winning the tiebreak 11-9.

No. 8 Andrey Rublev won in straight sets, and was joined by Alexander Zverev (12), Cameron Norrie (16) and Nicolas Jarry (23) as seeded men’s players to advance.

Russia’s Karen Khachanov, last year’s semifinalist who was No. 11 this year, was the top men’s seed to bow out after his loss to American wild card Michael Mmoh. Borna Coric (27), Ugo Humbert (29) and Tallon Griekspoor (24) also were among the seeds to lose.

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