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Road to Slam Glory: The Daniil Medvedev story

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Daniil Medvedev cemented his place in history with his US Open triumph. Join us for a look at how the Russian star got to where he is now.

First ATP title – Sydney International 2018

As a 21-year-old in 2017, the Russian had earned a spot as the seventh entry in the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, coming third in the exhibition event.

Medvedev then began 2018 ranked at 65 in the world, momentarily dropping to 84 after an early exit at a Challenger Tour event in Australia.

He then came through two rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw of the ATP 250 Sydney International.

There, Medvedev dismissed world number 29 Philipp Kohlschreiber and fellow youngster Jared Donaldson in the first two rounds to make the quarter-finals.

The 21-year old then ousted two Italians in Paolo Lorenzi and world number 27 Fabio Fognini to reach a second career ATP final.

The championship showdown saw Medvedev take on home favourite, 18-year-old world number 167 Australian Alex de Minaur.

Medvedev rallied from a set down to secure a first career ATP title, claiming the match 1-6, 6-4, 7-5.

 

 

First ATP 500 title – Tokyo Open 2018

Entering October of the 2018 season, Medvedev had since earned another ATP 250 title in Winston-Salem.

Furthermore, he had reached the third round of a Slam for the first time at Wimbledon before doing so again at the US Open, and sat inside the world top-40 for the first time.

Medvedev went into qualifying for the Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo. He battled past home talent Hiroki Moriya and Belarusian Egor Gerasimov to make it to the main draw.

His next opponent was world number 14 Diego Schwartzman, defeating the Argentine 6-4, 6-4 for a seventh career victory over a top-20 opponent.

Medvedev then ousted world number 51 Martin Klizan, followed by back-to-back Canadians in Milos Raonic and Denis Shapovalov.

The Russian faced home favourite and two-time champion Kei Nishikori in the final, overcoming him 6-2, 6-4 to complete the main draw of the tournament without dropping a set.

This was Medvedev’s second tournament triumph as a qualifier. In addition, this was the first time that the 22-year-old had defeated multiple top-20 players in a single event, being Diego Schwartzman (14), Milos Raonic (20) and Kei Nishikori (12).

 

 

First Masters 1000 title – Cincinnati Open 2019

After capturing three titles in 2018, Medvedev sat at a career-high 16 in the world entering 2019. He then backed up this feat by bettering his best ever Slam result, at the Australian Open.

The Russian reached the fourth round in Melbourne before falling to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. Medvedev kicked on from there to claim another title in Sofia, Bulgaria, before finals in Barcelona and Washington.

As the eighth seed at the Canadian Masters, he battled through to face Rafael Nadal in the Montreal final. Medvedev was handily beaten 6-3, 6-0 by the Spaniard, but success would soon follow for the 23-year-old.

Now world number eight, Medvedev came into the Cincinnati Masters full of confidence. He breezed through the first four rounds of the tournament without dropping a set to set-up a semi-final clash with top seed Djokovic.

Medvedev had won their previous meeting on the clay of Monte Carlo earlier in the season, but Djokovic led the head-to-head 3-1.

Djokovic claimed the opening set before Medvedev rallied to victory and secure a second Masters final in as many events.

There he took on world number 19 David Goffin, conquering the Belgian in straight sets to claim a first Masters title.

 

 

US Open finalist – 2019

Immediately following the Cincinnati Masters, Medvedev entered the US Open as the world number five and fifth seed in New York.

Despite his recent success at Masters 1000 level, few could have predicted what was to come for the Russian.

Medvedev overcame Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Hugo Dellien to reach the third round before facing tour veteran Feliciano Lopez for a spot in the round of 16.

The pair played out a dramatic and feisty match, with Medvedev coming out victorious. The Russian had received boos from the crowd throughout much of the match, and thanked the fans for their “energy” in helping push him to the win.

Medvedev continued to harness the often negative energy of the New York crowd to channel his focus, overcoming Dominik Koepfer to find himself in a Slam quarter-final for the first time.

There he faced 23rd seed Stan Wawrinka, who had benefitted from a mid-match retirement from Novak Djokovic in the previous round.

Medvedev took full advantage of not playing the world number one, ousting Wawrinka in four sets to face Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals.

He won out over the Bulgarian in straight sets to face 18-time slam champion and world number two Rafael Nadal in the final.

The Spaniard looked to be cruising to a fourth US Open title when he went up two sets to love over Medvedev, but the 23-year-old would not lie down and accept defeat.

On the Nadal serve at 5-6 in the third, Medvedev set up triple set point with a blistering down-the-line forehand winner.

After Nadal saved one set point, Medvedev hammered a backhand winner past the Spaniard to notch a set on the scoreboard, game on.

At 4-5 in the fourth, again on the Nadal serve, Medvedev carved out a set point opportunity at 40-Ad. A wide Nadal serve pushed the Russian well outside the court, but a lasered backhand return winner saw the tie into a deciding set.

But the Medvedev resistance was finally broken, as from 2-2 Nadal surged to a double break and served out the championship for a 19th Slam title.

Medvedev had ensured a final that would live on in the memory, as the two men did battle for close to five hours in Arthur Ashe Stadium, forcing Nadal to truly earn the win.

 

 

ATP Finals champion – 2020

Following on from New York, Medvedev would secure a second career Masters 1000 title in Shanghai before a first ATP Finals appearance in London, losing all three of his round robin matches.

Still, entering 2020 the Russian was now ranked fifth in the world and riding high. But then the Covid pandemic hit, setting the tour on a five-month hiatus from March to August, before returning for the US hard court swing.

Medvedev could not replicate his Cincinnati triumph, falling in the quarter-finals to Roberto Bautista Agut, but did go on to reach the US Open semi-finals, losing out to eventual champion Dominic Thiem.

Now into November, Medvedev secured a third Master 1000 title in Paris, dismissing Alexander Zverev in the final.

This brought the world number four to the ATP Finals in formidable form, completely reversing his 2019 fortunes by defeating Zverev, Djokovic and Diego Schwartzman in the round robin to secure a semi-final berth.

There he rallied from a set down to oust world number two Rafael Nadal, before facing 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem.

Again Medvedev fought from a set down to win the season-ending event, up to that point the highest level title of his career.

 

 

US Open champion – 2021

As 2021 gets underway, Medvedev has been in the top-10 for a total of 51 weeks, just shy of a year.

After winning the ATP Cup as part of Team Russia, Medvedev went on to reach a second career Slam final at the Australian Open.

Unlike his titanic tussle with Nadal at the 2019 US Open, Medvedev was soundly beaten by world number one Novak Djokovic in straight sets in Melbourne.

Following disappointing results at the first three Masters 1000 event of the year, and disappointment at Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, Medvedev entered the North American swing of the tour hungry for success on the hard courts.

At the Canadian Masters in Toronto, Medvedev rectified his 2019 final loss to Nadal by going all the way this time around, defeating surprise package Reilly Opelka in the final for a fourth Masters 1000 title.

the quest for back-to-back titles was ended by compatriot Andrey Rublev in Cincinnati, the world number seven registering a first career victory at ATP level over Medvedev in the semi-finals.

Now world number two, Medvedev went into the US Open looking to be the man to end the Djokovic dream of the Calendar Grand Slam.

As first and second seeds, the two would meet in the final should they both make it.

Medvedev cruised through the first four rounds without dropping a set, only surrendering one to qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp in the quarter-finals.

He then ousted first-time slam finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime to set up a final showdown with Djokovic, a repeat of their Australian Open final meeting.

But this time the result was flipped completely on its head, as Medvedev produced a masterclass while the pressure of the Calendar Slam got to Djokovic.

Medvedev secured a first Grand Slam title in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, to deny history for Djokovic and reach the pinnacle of the men’s game.

 


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