Daniil Medvedev’s game is unorthodox but effective and in my opinion good on the eye.
Some have said his tennis isn’t attractive but how can you argue with a formula that has him with the most tour wins this year?
He has a Masters 1000 title and a major final under his belt of late and I see him causing trouble and competing at the highest but is there a slight issue with his game?
I wouldn’t call it an issue but a room for improvement.
I think he can take his backhand to the next level.
If many were to get involved in a backhand to backhand rally with Daniil you’d lose but he doesn’t snap it from that standing position, he guides it instead.
What benefit do you get from guiding? Less risk.
What risk do you get from guiding? Open court and on the back foot.
Let’s take a look;
You can see Medvedev’s stance behind the baseline. Good positioning, the feet move well but the action isn’t going to be effective because of the arms.
The rotation is perfect to snap it down the line but because his arms are so tight and compact to his body he can’t generate power and you see in the follow through his racket head moves up rotationally through the shot guide the ball and not ripping it.
Whether you guide or rip, the ball will be looking to head into that green box I’ve circled however with different effects. Guiding it gives Rafa time to get there and keep rally going where as ripping the ball gives you the upper hand to either approach the net or hit the clean winner.
Seconds later, same point we get to here;
Medvedev back in the backhand corner with a chance to rip it and guides it cross court and Rafa picks off the winner down the line.
Medvedev’s ground strokes are strong but there has to be a reason Rafa wasn’t afraid to go with an invitation into the backhand knowing it wasn’t coming back with interest.
Daniil’s average top-spin speed on the backhand was 69mph at the US Open compared to Rafa’s 71mph and 3mph down on Daniil’s average forehand speed as well.
2mph might not sound like much but it does make a big difference. Imagine going from running 5mph (12 minutes a mile) to running 8mph (7.5 minutes a mile) it’s a big difference.
How does it up his power and authority on it?
Stance and arms.
The keys to hitting that ripped backhand comes from feet and rotation of the body but also the arms.
- I swing back before hitting (arms straight, away from body)
- Move forward and strike (arms still straight, moving away from body
- 2 into 3, follow through on the arms around the neck.
Same again below;
Different time, same shot but same principles apply. Arms straight and away from body, not locked towards chest.
When I think of best two handed backhands in men’s tennis I think Djokovic, Murray, Goffin and Hyeon Chung. Four players who can guide but rip the backhand better than anyone.
In the long run that little addition to his game can make a big difference. When you see Novak for example step just around the backhand and line up that backhand it’s frightening because you know what is coming and it is such a true hit and one Daniil can adopt.