Making his eighth appearance at the ATP 500 tournament in Halle, Struff recovered from 2-5 down in the first set en route to a 7-6(6), 6-3 victory against the top-seeded Russian, who reached last week’s Roland Garros quarter-finals (l. to Tsitsipas).
“This is the biggest win — [FedEx ATP] Rankings wise — of my career and to do it here on home soil is very special,” said Struff. “I live only an hour from here.
“He served for the [first] set at 6-5 and twice went for an ace on a second serve and I put returns in at 30/30 and 30/40. I then played a very good tie-break and at 5-1 up in the second set, I thought about being up 5-1 last week against Diego Schwartzman [in the Roland Garros fourth round]. I lost the set in the tie-break, after having seven set points, so it was definitely in my head. It’s not something you can get out of your head easily.”
The 31-year-old German saved one set point at 5-6, 30/40 in the first set and closed out the tie-break with a forehand volley winner. Struff then won five of the first six games in the second set, and although he was broken at 5-1, having missed a match point with a volley error, the World No. 45 closed out in his next service game.
Struff, who beat Medvedev’s compatriot Andrey Rublev on Parisian clay two weeks ago, struck 31 winners in the 10th Top 10 win of his career (10-26 lifetime) over one hour and 34 minutes. The BMW Open runner-up will now play American qualifier Marcos Giron in the second round.
“Last time in Cincinnati [at the 2019 Western & Southern Open], Medvedev killed me 6-2, 6-1, it was really tough,” said Struff. “I didn’t know how to play him. It is better to play him on grass rather than hard courts. I have a good game for grass and I like to come in. The wins at Roland Garros definitely gave me a confidence boost.”
Medvedev, who was making his first appearance in Halle, had won all three of their ATP Head2Head meetings. This year’s Open 13 Provence titlist (d. Herbert) and Australian Open finalist (l. to Djokovic) drops to a 22-7 record on the season, which also includes helping Russia to the ATP Cup crown.
Elsewhere, Halle debutant Lloyd Harris broke serve once in each set to overcome eighth-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4 in 68 minutes. The South African, who reached the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final (l. to Karatsev) in March, won 29 of 33 first-service points and goes on challenge Slovakian qualifier Lukas Lacko.
Japan’s Kei Nishikori, the 2014-15 semi-finalist, worked hard for his 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 win over Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania in one hour and 41 minutes. Nishikori now meets #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda, the Emilia-Romagna Open champion (d. Cecchinato) prior to Roland Garros.