Daniil Medvedev is one of a group of up and coming Russian tennis players on the ATP Tour that includes the likes of Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev.
What stands out about the 23-year-old from his other compatriots is that the past few weeks on the North American hard courts have showcased a incredible display of consistency and shotmaking, which has seen Medvedev make three finals in a row–at Washington, Montreal, and Cincinnati.
With Medvedev winning his first Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati on Sunday, a run that included an impressive three-set victory against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, the Russian has established himself as a genuine contender for the US Open.
Daniil Medvedev: Why is he effective?
But what makes the Russian’s game so impressive? First, he is remarkably consistent from the back of the court. In that regard, comparisons can be made between him and Djokovic. On the North American hard courts, Medvedev has barely looked like missing a ball from the baseline. Some fans and pundits have been somewhat harsh about Medvedev’s groundstrokes lacking the elegance or flair of other players on tour, but they are undeniably effective.
Another key component of the Russian’s game is his serve and his ability to change tactics during a match. This was displayed in his Western & Southern Open semifinal against Djokovic. Trailing by a set, and struggling physically in the second set, Medvedev decided to be more aggressive on his second serves. This saw a dramatic change in momentum and Medvedev took the second and third sets, hitting second serves at a speed of around 120 mph in the final set.
So far, the only slight weakness in the Russian’s game is that he sometimes struggles in the big moments of matches. A prime example of this was the Citi Open final against Nick Krygios, which Medvedev lost in two tiebreak sets. The Russian was the better player throughout the match and had a 5-2 lead in the first set tiebreak before making unforced errors. He should have won that. A week later against Karen Khachanov, in the semifinals of Montreal, Medvedev struggled to get over the finishing line in a match he could have won easier.
Medvedev isn’t the finished article yet, and he will undoubtably improve as he gets more experience in big matches, but he has already established himself as one of the players at the very top of the game.
Despite establishing himself as a contender at the US Open, it’s important to keep things in perspective. He’s played three weeks of consecutive matches with only one week off to recover for New York. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are some physical repercussions from his long American hard court season.
It’s important not to put too much pressure on Medvedev and to give him time to develop. He’s undoubtedly incredibly talented, but with many other up and coming players developing this season, for example Stefanos Tsitsipas, there is strong competition at the top of the men’s game.
Whatever happens in New York, tennis has a great future to look forward to in the aftermath of the Big 4. It’s great to see so many players making their mark on tour and establishing themselves as the future of the game.
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