Last year not many players had a better year than the emerging Daniil Medvedev. The Relentless Russian who is a wall on the baseline was number 19 in the world at the beginning of last year and finished at 5 having made it to No.4.
It was a year that saw him wins two Masters 1000 titles as well as an incredible fight in New York making the final of the US Open but in London things didn’t go to plan.
London is different pressure and a totally different challenge, it requires you to step up and sadly form it didn’t happen last year.
Sandwiched in between straight set defeats to Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex Zverev was a 7-6 3-6 6-7 defeat to Rafael Nadal but the Russian led 5-1 in the deciding set before slipping up and leaving London without a win.
I really like Daniil, I like watching him figure things out and in London last year I did feel that he did a bit tied up maybe on previous successes that season? We raved about his backhand and the unorthodox approach but ease approach he plays with but I felt it caused him issues.
He is tough to break down but Tsitsipas found the key going back behind the Russian and not allowing him time to step into his backhand or forehand but scamper for them.
The biggest problem for me was the backhand, Daniil isn’t a player who will try to smash you off the court but has the weapons to do that. Daniil plays a more measured approach with a bigger picture in mind and that stubbornness on the baseline is great to watch but sometimes locks up his ability to kill rallies.
I asked the question after London, was the backhand a worry going into 2020? He either had to paint the line or not generate that winner and he struggled:
Then a couple of months later in Melbourne he got picked apart this time Wawrinka and the backhand especially down the line didn’t stand up.
The shot selection wasn’t bad but the power lacked and Daniil admitted on Eurosport: “I usually try and play a slow backhand to have an easy ball after where they will put up in the air (looped forehand)” instead of going for it.
Since then the season lacked consistency for one reason or another however in Paris was outstanding.
Kevin Anderson 6-6
Alex de Minaur 5-7 6-2 6-2
Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-1
Milos Raonic 6-4 7-6
Alex Zverev 5-7 6-4 6-1
Impressive run of results, winning in straight sets is impressive but I love watching him figure it out and he did it superbly especially against Zverev in the final.
Down a set and tied in the second I feared for him but there is never a panic but a belief, he was being out-hit on the baseline and then went for it. He became stronger on serve, shorter rallies and punishing groundstrokes.
I am gutted I won’t be in London this year but I do hope the Paris champion has a deep run!