Barely started, the story of” friendship “ between Daniil Medvedev and clay may already be coming to an end. Arrived at Roland-Garros impatient as ever, the Russian world number 2 left the Philippe-Chatrier court sadly on Tuesday May 30, eliminated as soon as he entered the running by Thiago Seyboth Wild (172e World), an amazing 23-year-old Brazilian, out of qualifying (7-6, 6-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4).
In the wake of his title on May 21 at the Masters 1000 in Rome – his first on the surface – Medvedev approached, more relaxed than in previous years, the Parisian deadline where he never exceeded the quarter-finals (in 2021 ). “It’s the first time I’ve come here after winning matches the week before, I’m a little less stressed compared to clay,” had assured the Russian the day before launching his Parisian fortnight. In the Italian capital, Medvedev had impressed his clan like his peers, with victories in particular over the German Alexander Zverev and over two Top 10, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and the Dane Holger Rune in the final, two players specializing in the surface to which was allergic to him until then.
“This may be the start of a beautiful friendship with clay. No love huh, just friendship”, he nuanced then. A success which propelled him among the outsiders of the Parisian Grand Slam, behind the two big favorites, Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic.
A premonitory statement
“I have higher expectations than usual at Roland-Garros, but I also know that it can be a trap. You have to know how to capitalize on this confidence, but not be sure of yourself because that’s where the danger lies. Sometimes you think, “Oh, I played so well, it’s going to be easy”. Then, in the first round, we have problems ”, had prophesied Medvedev, Friday, May 26, during his pre-tournament press conference.
Tuesday, in a central court swept by gusts of wind, the Russian player seemed to reconnect with his demons on the ocher dust, he who has long described himself as a “cow on the ice”. Borrowed in his travels, the tall staker (1.98 m) produced a painless game for his opponent, his big untied strikes perfectly neutralized by a Brazilian with such a daring look than his tennis.
From the start of the match, the public at the Philippe-Chatrier court took up the cause of this mustachioed tattooed man who looked like Freddy Mercury. It front of “Thia-go” sonorous descending from the stands, the timid « davai Daniel » (“Go Daniil!”) were no match for it. Not impressed by his baptism on center court, the Brazilian redoubled his aggressiveness in his strikes, making Medvedev admire his forehand shift.
For two sets, the youngest took the Russian surveyor at his own game, showing him around the four corners of the field. Seyboth Wild even had the opportunity to lead two sets to zero, before sinning by greed and haste on three balls in a row. Caught up by cramps, he let the world number 2 take control of the match in the next two sets. Annoyed by the public whistling at him when he asks the referee to go down to check a mark, the French-speaking Russian asked the haters to shut up.
Before Seyboth Wild sticks to the plume. This fan ofHarry Potter – to the point of having had Hermione’s eyes, the Forbidden Forest or even Hedwig’s head tattooed on his body – pulled out of his magic boot an anthology of drop shots, which he mastered as much as the volley. Pushed into the fifth set, Medvedev is regularly taken on the wrong foot by this opponent who is playing the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time after nine attempts. After four and fifteen hours of play, Thiago Seyboth Wild did not tremble when concluding with a final forehand along the line, his 69e winning move of the game.
“I just had to believe in myself”
Winner of the 2018 US Open juniors, this right-hander – who has the autobiography of Rafael Nadal as his bedside book – won his first title on the main circuit in early 2020, beating Casper Ruud (unfortunate finalist at Roland-Garros 2022 against to Nadal) in the final in Santiago (Chile). He then became the first player born in the 2000s to lift an ATP trophy. Since then, he had not been able to confirm, fell back to the 418e up in early 2023.
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At no charge, the native of Marechal Candido Rondon won the battle. ” It’s the most beautiful day of my life. I was aware that it was going to be a difficult match, but I knew what tactic to use against [Medvedev], I’ve seen him play a thousand times. I just had to believe in myself.” he reacted, more intimidated when speaking to journalists than on the court, then frankly uncomfortable when being questioned about acts of domestic violence of which he was accused by a former companion in 2021.
On the ground, the loser of the day promises him a tomorrow that sings: “If he continues to play like this, he will finish the season in the Top 30, he will earn more money, the sponsors will comeassured Daniil Medvedev. But for that, he has to play at this level in tournaments around the world, and that doesn’t come down to a single stroke of brilliance on the Philippe-Chatrier court. »
Despite this defeat, the Russian is not shot down. “Physically, I didn’t feel so bad. Of course I’m disappointed, but I don’t think I played badly. Next year, I may be even more motivated to win another title on gravel. » This will be an opportunity for him to celebrate his victory with a little dance, his new ritual which he initiated in Rome. By chance, a samba?