Daniil Medvedev, the Russian threat

Daniil Medvedev, in his first round against India's Prajnesh Gunneswaran, at the US Open on Monday (August 26th). Geoff Burke / USA TODAY Sports

The US Open has just begun and the one that emerges from a long hibernation would not lose its Latin. Twelve years after the advent of the most insatiable triumvirate of the modern tennis era, its dissolution is not on the agenda. At 32, 33 and 38 respectively, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will soon be mummified on the podium. Between them, the Serb, the Spaniard and the Swiss have won the last 13 Grand Slam tournaments. So, at the time of the New York meeting, not many people dare to bet on an outsider.

Not sure that Daniil Medvedev – who faces Wednesday, August 28 the Bolivian Hugo Dellien in the second round – is the first, since 2016, to bring down these three. But the Russian is the revelation of the American tour on hard, with three finals in three weeks that propelled him to the 5e world rank: after Washington (defeated by Nick Kyrgios) and Montreal (defeat against Nadal), the 23-year-old won the Cincinnati 1000 Masters at the expense of Belgium's David Goffin, after taking out Djokovic in the semi-finals.

The world number one could only see that in six months, his opponent had taken the thickness: "It has improved since the Australian Open (where the Serb had beaten him in eighths). His forehand is better. His movements too. His service has always been very good. It did not happen often to have a player in front of me who was so strong in the second ball and who served two first for such a long time. "

Counterterrorist and Francophile

In the new guard, Daniil Medvedev – no connection with his Ukrainian namesake, ex-world No. 4 and finalist at Roland Garros or elsewhere with the former Russian president – is not the most spectacular player. Flat game, long strike and very tense, technical little academic, on the circuit, an adjective returns in a loop to qualify the Russian: "Atypical".

This right-lined right-hander (1.98m), who trains for five years in the south of France and speaks French perfectly, knows how to play without rhythm, adapt to the conditions and out winning shots in the basement. "My goal is that my opponent does not know what to do. My style is to make the other think. Let him say to himself: "What can I do, because the guy is against me everywhere?" he summed up in The Team August 26th.

His summer recital should not make us forget that the young Russian is so far harmless in Grand Slam, where he never exceeded the knockout stages. This season, he stopped at this stage in Melbourne, the first round at Roland Garros and the third at Wimbledon.

But Daniil Medvedev landed in Queens with a psychological advantage: his record against the members of the Top 10. Since the beginning of the season, he beat Djokovic twice (Monte Carlo and Cincinnati), Dominic Thiem (Montreal), Kei Nishikori (Barcelona), Stefanos Tsitsipas (Monte Carlo) and Karen Khachanov (Montreal). Only Federer and Nadal resisted him: the Swiss beat him in the round of 16 in Miami and the Spaniard left him no chance in the final of the Masters 1000 of Montreal in early August.

These results came to confirm his rise after a year 2018 when he released his trophy cabinet on the ATP circuit, winning his first three tournaments, all on hard (Sydney, Winston-Salem and Tokyo).

With Karen Khachanov (23 years old, 9e worldwide) and Andrey Rublev (21 years old, 43e), he embodies the new Russian wave. Rather quiet and reserved in life, he shares with him a strong character on the court, like his bloodstain at Wimbledon in 2017 where, frustrated with his elimination in the second round, he threw pieces of money to the referee, guilty according to him for having favored his opponent.

"All of a sudden, I'm going crazy!"

The young Medvedev has long paid tribute in his own way to his illustrious elder Marat Safin. "When you start playing on the main circuit, there are more cameras, more attention, and then I realized that I could not do the bullshit I was doing before, otherwise I was going to spend my life to be disqualified. You do not even imagine how I was until I was 19 … (…) Screaming, crying, snowshoeing … I was doing everything, he always said in L'Equipe.

He worked hard on this aspect with his mental trainer. "Mentally, in terms of concentration, these last three weeks have been the most beautiful of my life. I can be proud of it. But that does not mean that there will not be a match where, at a stroke, I will completely fart the lead. There are still times when I want to explode. I do everything to avoid it, I work on it but I can not promise it. "

He can always seek advice from Roger Federer: before becoming a cold-blooded monster, the Swiss has long been a grumpy and capricious teenager. If the Russian wants to confirm at the end, and leave a trace in an era where the three fantastic leave only crumbs to the competition, he will have to take inspiration. A statistic alone sums up the sovereignty of the old sages over youth: at present, no player under 30 has a Grand Slam title to his name.


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