Good enough title for ya?
Medvedev’s quality is nothing new. Prior to his win over Novak in Monte Carlo and other “highlights” from the Russian in the past weeks that’ve gotten everyone all frothy on this 23 year-old, we liked his tennis last year and then some.
Here’s some discussion from about nine months ago that seems very relevant to what happened yesterday.
Djokovic v Medvedev
This quarter had a load of pretenders (Novak snacks), and you know I’ve been “requesting” this Medvedev match because this guy can play. Should be good, perhaps a whiff of resistance from the Russian before Novak carries-on. Novak’s dip in the third set yesterday v Shapo was bad news for the field. He got distracted (bored), let that set slip, and then bageled the very over-matched Canadian. This is only a reminder that Novak is in nearly every match toying with his competition and that the five-setter is a deadly venue to play the Serb. He has all day, if needed, to find his center and obliterate his opponent. Having said all of that, Medvedev fits (a bit) that pattern for the kind of player who can beat the Serb (big, young and confident baseliner).
The other youngster is Medvedev. We nailed this. He was, according to our preview, to provide a whiff of resistance to the Serb before Djokovic carried on. That was a legit resistance! Sure, you figured the Russian would hit a wall, but Novak might have gotten just as banged-up, practically. He looks quite not right.
Let me reiterate the unsustainable style that is that purely BL game. How many 40+ shot rallies did we see? That was brutal. I got tired watching it, watching those athletes literally keel-over after some of those physically ruinous exchanges. Novak looks, again, not quite right, in the lower back, the hip flexor, etc.
People are going to overreact to this Cincy SF yesterday or just completely mis-read it, hence why you should read Mcshow.
Nadal spanked the Russian last week, so what does that say about Novak and Rafa, blah blah blah.
Of course, most people, even those who can’t see the forest through the trees, understand that so much of sports and life is a game of match-ups. Certain match-ups either cater to or foil different athletes.
My take-away before and after the Medvedev and Djokovic match-up is that this one doesn’t really bode well for Novak. This conclusion is merely a symptom of the more fundamental analysis of Novak’s style, of his prominent BL approach. Granted, Novak is coming forward more and more, but when he reverts to the BL battle with his opponent, he’s more susceptible.
You may see this with how a guy like Bautista Agut matches-up with Novak; the Spaniard, your classic baseliner has beaten the Serb twice in 2019. There are other factors in different match-ups, of course, such as the serve, ROS, flatter ball, etc.
Novak, granted, has little difficulty with most baseliners. 😀
The theory I started floating around the court toward the end of 2018 is that these younger, bigger baseliners may give Novak trouble, as he ages, becomes unable for a variety of reasons to stay with some of these youngsters’ power.
Look at 2018 Paris Masters or the 2018 ATP Finals. Novak was denied by two such players (Khachanov and Zverev). Kyrgios has given Novak fits, as well.
Daniil Medvedev fits this prototype and has already given Novak difficulty, well before yesterday’s match.
When Daniil turned to the giant second serve that turned the match around yesterday, along with his go-for-broke on nearly every ground-stroke, the following dawned on me:
the comparison of this Medvedev 128mph second serve was to Kyrgios. The biggest difference between the Russian and Australian, however, could be in that Medvedev has so much more discipline, patience, can keep his cool.
This may be a Djokovic nightmare.
If Kyrgios actually, humbly, fought in every point, game, set and match like most dedicated athletes of this sport, he may be unplayable much much more often.
Instead, Kyrgios can’t keep his pants on and thus makes an absolute fool of himself.
Medvedev doesn’t play the fool; he remains clothed.
Then again, Novak looked to be cruising yesterday until Daniil appeared to change his strategy at the mid-point of that second set. The match literally turned on a dime, with the Russian set to face a BP there at 3-3, perhaps watch Novak run away with the match.
But the history of these two players shows still that yesterday did not depend entirely on this change of tactic.
Another misread of yesterday’s match revolves around people’s shock that the Russian could manage such a win despite all of the tennis he’s played recently. He made the final in D.C. and in Montreal, losing to Kyrgios and Nadal.
You’ve seen the stat flashed everywhere that he has more wins on tour in 2019 than anyone.
But he’s only 23 years-old, folks and he has, actually, apparently, a desire to compete and win!
Some thought he won yesterday despite playing all of this tennis, that he must be on fumes, etc.
Sorry: he won yesterday because of all of that tennis he’s played (with the help of some rampant serving and ball-striking, backed-into-a-corner).
Guys like Thiem and Medvedev are getting better on this tour, more dangerous for even the Big 3, because of their rampant schedule. Once you’re 30-something, you take weeks off, play a more selective schedule.
I don’t have the energy to look-up some stats that correlate to this argument, but I can guarantee you that players back-in-the-day played more tennis than most of you can stomach. Not only did they play busy tournament schedules, but the matches were often Bo5!
Remember, for those of you who seem to have just stumbled upon this lovely sport, Masters-level tournaments used to be best-of-five.
The tour now, you could argue, is cupcakes by comparison.
Medvedev won yesterday because he’s been playing very solid tennis, learning how to win, playing the best players in the world. I could easily read yesterday as a case where this kid, who’s got a very real desire to win (this has been obvious for a while now), decided yesterday, facing a straight-set beat-down to Novak in another Masters SF: fuck it, I’m not getting routined again! I’m this fucking close and despite the fact that Novak is a supreme fucking tennis god, I am going to fight this fucker off!
Pardon the language, but that’s what Medvedev did, folks.
His loss to Nadal informed yesterday big-time. No doubt.
In other words, there are a million reasons to discount some kind of flawed comparison between the Montreal Final and this Cincinnati SF.
Now, he just needs to consolidate the win and take-care of Goffin today. Might not be that easy given David’s experience and his own hunger, his own realization that this may be his only chance to win a 1000.
I have my money on the big serve.
Cheers and enjoy the tennis.
The other idea I had floating around my tennis imagination yesterday, watching this quality tennis match, watching second serves pierce the 125mph+ range and Novak almost throw-up his hands (and his breakfast), was none other than the great Pete Sampras, who used to piss on opponents with such a tactic. His tennis, by all measures, would have challenged and overcome the Big 3. No doubt.