When Alexander Zverev first began to work his way up the ATP rankings as a precocious teenager tipped for greatness, Daniil Medvedev was nowhere to be seen. Medvedev took far longer than his peers to reach the top of his sport and, even when he finally did, he was still an afterthought compared with those with flashier games and years of hype.
Once reaching the top, Medvedev has solidified himself as the foremost player of his time. On Friday evening, he made a powerful statement by overcoming a two-set deficit and defeating Zverev 5-7, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3 to secure a spot in the Australian Open final.
In 2021, Medvedev will compete against Jannik Sinner in the US Open, where he hopes to secure his second grand slam title, three years after his first win. Sinner defeated top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic in four sets to advance to the final against Medvedev. This will be Medvedev’s third Australian Open final and sixth grand slam final overall, but it will be his first time facing a player other than Djokovic or Rafael Nadal. Medvedev expressed his optimism, saying “Third time’s the charm, so let’s see. I have learned from experience that it doesn’t always work out, but hopefully it will this time.”
The most recent episode in Medvedev’s unpredictable journey at the Australian Open is his latest comeback. He has already made a comeback from being two sets down against Emil Ruusuvuori in the second round, in a match that ended at 3:40am. He also defeated Hubert Hurkacz, the ninth seed, in five sets and has faced several grueling matches in the intense Australian heat. Despite all of this, he continues to persevere and remains in the competition.
Medvedev stated, “Participating in this tournament has made me realize my own strength. I have accomplished things that I previously thought were beyond my capabilities. In the past, I had never pushed myself to this extent to reach the final.”
Medvedev’s recent win against Zverev adds to the mounting evidence that he has a strong psychological advantage over the German player. Although Zverev initially had the upper hand in their first four matchups, Medvedev has strategically turned the tide and has emerged victorious in 11 out of their last 13 encounters.
In their match, Zverev took advantage of Medvedev’s defensive play and staying far back on the court by continuously moving towards the net. However, as the end approached, Medvedev suddenly became more aggressive. He stepped up to the baseline, hitting the ball earlier and not giving his opponent as much time. In the tiebreaks, Medvedev was able to stay in the game by playing some impressive and crucial shots.
In the fourth set tiebreak, with the score tied at 4-4, the Russian player made a double fault, giving Zverev an opportunity to win the match with his serve. However, Medvedev surprised everyone with a remarkable forehand winner, followed by an impressive unintentional drop shot return that resulted in a point for him. He then finished off the tiebreak with an ace.
Zverev faced physical difficulties and became emotionally unstable, leading to a predictable result in the final set. Medvedev was able to capitalize on Zverev’s struggles and broke his serve at 2-2, due to Zverev’s weak forehand. This decisive break allowed Medvedev to secure the only service break in the final set and ultimately claim an impressive victory.
Zverev’s upcoming tournament follows the announcement that he will be undergoing a public trial in May for allegedly committing physical abuse against his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, Brenda Patea. Zverev has denied these accusations.
The trial for the German player is scheduled to start on May 31 and end on July 19, which means that during the next grand slam tournament, he will most likely be in the midst of his trial. When asked if the news affected his focus on tennis, Zverev replied, “No, because as I have mentioned before, anyone with a decent level of intelligence can grasp the situation. I hope the majority of you understand as well. I am not bothered by it,” he stated.