Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Daniil Medvedev’s crazy end to the season

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He’s the fit man of the moment. Winner of the Masters 1000 in Paris at the beginning of November, the Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev could well make a double blow, Sunday, November 22, against the Austrian Dominic Thiem, in the final of the Masters of London. In any case, he will be a favorite. Because Medvedev is the only player still undefeated in this tournament, which opposes, at the end of each season, the eight best players in the world.

Winner of his three group matches, successively against the German Alexander Zverev (6-3, 6-4), the Serbian Novak Djokovic (6-3, 6-3) and the Argentinian Diego Schwartzman (6-3, 6 -3), the Russian also beat, in the semi-final Saturday, November 21, Rafael Nadal for the first time in his career (3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3) after three failures – including one in the final of the US Open 2019 and another at the same London Masters.

“I felt like I was making great shots, but there was no connection in my game; that’s why I was losing “, he reacted after the meeting. “I couldn’t pass the buck in the important moments and he was better in those moments. And then, I decided to change little things: get ahead in the court, give myself a little more. It worked very well and I’m very happy with it. “

Crazy end of the season

Winner of his last nine games (including six against members of the world top 10), Daniil Medvedev is in the process of making a cannonball end of the season. Yet after his loss in the US Open semi-finals (in three sets to Dominic Thiem) in September, he seemed on the downward slope. Beaten as soon as he entered the competition at Hamburg and Roland Garros, he had only spent one round in Saint Petersburg (where he was the title holder) and two in Vienna.

“I don’t like living in the past”, he assured before starting his Parisian fortnight at the Bercy tournament, at the beginning of November. “Whether it’s good or bad, I want to move on and focus on the future. I don’t feel too bad. Of course, my confidence could be a little higher. But physically and mentally, I feel ready for the end of the season. “

Two weeks later, he won in the Parisian Masters 1000 final against Alexander Zverev, a year after his last success in Shanghai. At the time, he came out of six consecutive finals (for three titles) including one at the conclusion of a crazy tournament at the US Open in New York, where the general public had discovered him.

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“This victory in Paris is a huge boost in confidence before London, he explained to ATP last week. My tennis was very good so I have confidence in myself and I think that will help me. I had only won one match in three or four years at Bercy, but this year I won the tournament, so I feel confident. “

“I hope to win a few matches”

However, Daniil Medvedev did not display enormous ambitions before entering the London competition, a year after a first experience which had ended in three defeats in as many games: “I hope to win a few games there”, he explained soberly after his Parisian success. “I have no other goal than to get some victories. I’m not aiming for the final title. “

Since then, he has done much better than expected. He won his three group matches without conceding a single set, with the added bonus of a demonstration against Novak Djokovic, world number one (6-3, 6-3). “To be completely honest, I’m not sure Novak Djokovic played his best tennis today”, relativized the Russian. A feeling confirmed by the person concerned, who however recognized his opponent of the day having played at a very high level.

“He’s tall and he moves well. He rarely misses his backhands and he’s just a smart player, a very smart player, explained the Serbian after the meeting. He knows how to make you run, make you play and he always pushes you to play extra shots from the baseline. If you start to make unforced errors, and you might not be at your best, he uses it against you. “

On Sunday, he will face the third player in the world (after beating the first two) in a final which will look like a revenge a little over two months after the semi-final won by Dominic Thiem at the US Open (6-2, 7-6, 7-6). “He’s playing incredibly well at the moment”, explained Medvedev after his victory against Nadal. “At the US Open, when I lost to him, I remember sitting in the locker room and thinking I played well. Since then, we’ve played together in my first two training sessions on center court here. We had some good exchanges, it was a very good level of tennis, and I told my coach that he could go far here. I don’t know if he said the same thing… But we’ll see you tomorrow. “

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