Daniil Medvedev: The unorthodox Russian looking to make it to the top

Ahead of the NextGen finals in Milan RealSport profiles the contenders in Milan. Daniil Medvedev the 21-year-old is one of the seven men hoping to lift the trophy.


Daniil Medvedev, ranked 63rd in the world down from a career high of world #40 looks to continue to make his claim as one of tennis’ future stars. He was born 21 years ago in Moscow to parents Sergey and Olga and picked up a racquet for the first time aged 6. That led to a promising if not wildly successful junior career in which he peaked inside the top 15 at world #13. It may not sound as impressive as the former world #1 and junior Slam winning achievements of the likes of Zverev and Shapovalov. But, a certain Novak Djokovic never went higher than world #24 in the juniors, and his career has hardly wanted for success.

Career highlight so far

Medvedev ended 2016 just inside the top 100 and looked to 2017 as the chance to kick on. It began brightly enough for him as he made an excellent run to the final in Chennai. He defeated established professionals such as Thiago Monteiro and Dudi Sela en route to the title match. Ultimately, Roberto Bautista Agut, the second seed in Chennai, had too much for him winning comfortably 6-3 6-4. But it was a sign of the good things to come from the young Russian. He continued to play well across the hard court and clay season, admittedly often at Challenger level. But it was during the brief grass court season that he was to taste his biggest successes. He made it to back-to-back quarterfinals in Rosmalen and at Queen’s Club, which was his first at ATP 500 level.

The good performances continued for Medvedev in Eastbourne. He made a run to the semifinals where it took eventual titlist and 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic to stop him. Understandably he then went to Wimbledon in good fettle despite a tough looking draw against then world #3 Stan Wawrinka. Grass is not the Swiss’ favourite surface but he is still a two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist. But against Medvedev, he was stopped in the first round as he fell 4-6 6-3 4-6 1-6. Unfortunately, Medvedev’s greatest career victory was then marred by a fine incurred for unsportsmanlike conduct in his second round defeat to Ruben Bemelmans. Not the way the Russian would have wanted to end his first Wimbledon. But his impressive victory over Wawrinka unquestionably promises good things for his future.

Rivalries

Medvedev has not yet been on Tour long enough to develop any major rivalries, but he has had two interesting clashes with world #8 Grigor Dimitrov this year. Medvedev lost the first match at Queen’s in the quarterfinal but acquitted himself well in what proved to be a 3-6 6-3 3-6 defeat. He enacted a measure of revenge on the Bulgarian with a 6-4 6-2 win in the second round of the Washington Open. Both matches have made for interesting contests between the aesthetic Dimitrov and the comparatively unorthodox Medvedev. It will be interesting to see if the Russian can continue to trouble the more illustrious Dimitrov in the future.

Playing style

One might assume that the 6’6” Medvedev was a huge server. But though the Russian does not lack power on his serve it is hardly one of the Tour’s best. Instead, Medvedev is at his best when rallying from the baseline. His forehand is a strange looking shot but one hit with little spin making it an effective weapon and one numerous opponents have found hard to deal with. His backhand is also an excellent shot, probably his best. He is capable of taking it up the line with pace as well as trading cross court and his slice is also very effective. One area he must improve, however, is his movement. He struggles to cover the court as well as many of his rivals but does not have the power necessary to cover that weakness. Should he wish to reach the highest echelons of the game he must address that.

Career statistics

Australian Open: first round 2017 (lost to Escobedo)

French Open: first round 2017 (lost to Bonzi)

Wimbledon: second round 2017 (lost to Bemelmans)

US Open: first round 2017 (lost to Shapovalov)

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