Prior to the Nadal vs Tsitsipas QF I wondered if any of these youngsters “have a fucking chance against [Nadal and Djokovic].”
I ended that post with a simple question/prediction: “What say the one-hander?”
Tsitsipas responded, answering that question emphatically in his epic comeback to take-down the perennial Spanish champion.
In my Medvedev vs Tsitsipas SF preview, I ended that post with another prediction: “Go long or go home, Stefanos.”
I slumbered through the first couple of sets, but those were very predictable. Medvedev’s maturity and form would have him come out hot, determined, not in the mood to fuck around. Very Nadal-like, as I argued pretty extensively in that match preview.
And in that third set, you saw the table starting to turn. Tsitsipas lost his serve early, but broke back and had another break in hand to win the third and send this match into all kinds of trouble for the Russian. Medvedev even acknowledged this in his post-match interview with Courier. He recognized the similarities between the Nadal QF and this SF against the Greek.
In the end, the Greek failed to go long. He had to in order to outlast this particular player. Medvedev has proven not to be very good in a five-setter. He’s a Bo3 machine. He will learn Bo5, given his talent and ambition, but currently he’s in all kinds of difficulty if a match goes into a fifth set. Had Tsitsipas converted the second break in the third, with the crowd getting all kinds of involved, and the Russian starting to act like an asshole, this match would have likely gone five sets.
But it didn’t.
And here’s more of the problem. We talked about the simplification of match strategy. First of all, take care of your serve. Tsitsipas did not. He finished with 3 maybe 4 aces? Granted, the Russian stands back in Nadal territory and can fetch just about any ball, but the Greek’s serve was garbage. The match is really pretty much over at that point. Coupled with Stefanos’ serve infertility, Daniil’s was rolling. He finished with about 20 aces. He worked quickly, wanted the match to move quickly. He knew Tsitsipas was likely a bit emptied from the QF and Medvedev likes the quicker, shorter efforts. Again, he’s a Bo3 machine, not quite built for the long, hot mess of a Bo5.
And why would the Greek try to stand toe-to-toe from the baseline against perhaps the best retriever in the game?
And why would you keep going to the Russian’s BH? I didn’t bring this up in my preview, but Daniil and Sascha, for all of their future potential and current youthful genius: their FH is their achilles heal. Sure Daniil looked okay from that side, but that’s his weakness — or to put another way: his BH is his most dangerous weapon from the baseline.
Why not bring the Russian to net? Federer is 3-0 against Medvedev and part of that is Federer’s variety. Medvedev has been dangerous for a few years now. But one way to certainly trouble this 6′ 6″ guy is to bring him forward, make him go low. Stefanos was all FH and BH top-spin, trying to push, out-hit and who knows what else. Daniil is not comfortable at the net, another difference between him and Nadal. But the Greek abandoned any strategy to bring the Russian out of his comfort zone.
At the same time, Medvedev played really well. And that flat groundstroke from both wings that we talked about was certainly on display. That’s another area where he and Nadal are quite different. Otherwise, they are both defensive juggernauts.
But again, you have to hold serve, even more so against a guy who is trying to end this in three sets, by any means necessary.
Did you see Daniil get flustered when Stefanos tried to delay the Russian’s service game in the third?
Medvedev admitted he got scared in third. Can you believe that? He’s up 2-0 and on serve in the third, and Tsitsipas looks pretty scattered mentally and physically, and Daniil was worried about going long.