“He’s cheating on you”: “Chess player” Daniil Medvedev keeps his opponents in check | Tennis News
Standing at 6ft 6in and slim as a pencil, he emerged at the forefront of the next wave seeking to break the monopoly of the “big three” of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
After reaching the 2019 US Open final, where he lost to Nadal, he worked hard on his game and his fitness to move through the rankings and advance to the Australian Open final on Sunday against Djokovic. on a streak of 20 consecutive victories, demonstrating his mental and physical endurance.
Boasting a career ranking of four, he accepted his immense potential.
Prior to his rise in 2019, he could let his emotions get in his way and never hesitated to admit that he hadn’t done everything in the most professional way possible.
He competed hard and got his job done on the training ground, but his diet and recovery routines weren’t what they should be, with the 25-year-old enjoying sweets and croissants.
And if a long match ended late, he often skipped the ice bath.
“I thought it would be the best rest, just lay on the bed and watch TV. And it actually isn’t,” he said last year.
But Medvedev, nicknamed Bear, changed and paid off.
In his 20 games, he beat all the top 10 players except Federer, who was injured.
When informed of this, he replied: “It’s great to know that. It’s a shame Roger doesn’t play,” suggesting that he was also confident to take his scalp.
Medvedev is a smart man. He excelled in physics and mathematics in school, earning an early degree and enrolling at a university in his hometown of Moscow to study applied economics and business.
Instead, he chose to play tennis full time, moving to the south of France, where his sister lived, to benefit from his high quality coaching and facilities.
Fluent in Russian and English, he is also often heard conversing in French with his trainer, Gilles Cervara, who helped him get to where he is today.
Despite leaving college prematurely, Medvedev remains a tactical thinker, or as commentator Jim Courier said this week: “He’s a master chess player on the court.”
Medvedev leaves his opponents guessing with his flat, low groundstrokes, while changing the pace and angles, mixing an impenetrable defense with an opportunistic attack.
His semi-final opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas once called Medvedev’s style of play “boring”, but even the Greek star was won over.
“Let me tell you, he’s a player who has unlocked pretty much everything in the game,” he said after crashing into himself in straight sets.
“He’s cheating on you. You know, he’s playing the game very smart. It’s really interesting to see that.”
As the Russian has honed his game, one key rule still applies and that is to “fight like crazy”, a trait he learned from one of his first tennis coaches when he was still a little boy.
“His rule of thumb was ‘Whoever wins the game is the one who makes more balls over the net’, which is easy to understand,” he said.