Medvedev dethrones ‘Big Four’ dominance as new world No.1

The mischievous US Open champion will reach the summit of the world rankings on Monday for the first time.

Daniil Medvedev during Australian Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

As a kid Daniil Medvedev would hit tennis balls against a wall imagining he was playing the likes of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

The Russian stated recently he has thought on court, “What would Novak (Djokovic) do?”

Like all emerging prodigies, he’s had to somehow wield his racket up against some of the best players of all time in the ‘Big Four’ era, but now the pantheon of modern tennis greats is below his name in the pecking order.

"It’s definitely some great news"

On Monday, Medvedev will become the 27th man to be crowned world No.1, dislodging the overpowering quartet of Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Andy Murray, who shared the top spot for 921 weeks dating back Andy Roddick at the helm in February 2004!

Ending such an era of dominance is quite the feat from Medvedev, the third Russian man to reach world No.1, joining Yevgeny Kafelnikov (1999) and Marat Safin (2000-01).

Djokovic needed to reach the Dubai semi-finals to ensure he remained at the top, but his surprise 6-4, 7-6(4) defeat by world No.123 Jiri Vesely in the last eight sent Medvedev to the peak.

The 26-year-old, over in Mexico at the Acapulco tournament, wasn’t aware he was guaranteed the world No.1 position until congratulations messages began pining up on his phone.

“It’s not easy to play a match when you get this news during the day,” said Medvedev, after masterminding a 6-2, 6-3 win over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka to reach the last four.

“The first goal for me was to still win today because I’m here to try to win every match I play. But it’s definitely some great news.”

"I have to learn from the best"

This rise to the summit has been building incrementally since 2018. The Russian started that campaign ranked No.65 and has since won 13 titles (including his 2021 US Open triumph) and reached four Grand Slam finals. Considering the pandemic interruptions and the calibre of his rivals, that is an immense rise to rule the roost.

The unorthodox but piercing striking has become so effective, Medvedev happy to disrupt the established order with a menacing smile, but also fierce competitive streak.

“I think the higher you climb the rankings, the further you want to go. I have been No.2 for quite a long time. I have been playing pretty well. Of course, I want to become No.1, win 25 slams, or something like this,” stated Medvedev at the Australian Open last month.

“If I manage to do big results, I can become No.1, especially of course with Novak losing his points here. But that's life. Sometimes somebody is injured, sometimes somebody lose. Well, he didn't manage to play here. That was a big story, but the result is this, and if I manage to become No.1, even with these circumstances, I think I should still have some credits.”

He certainly has plenty of credit and respect from the tennis community.

There’s an intriguing prelude to Medvedev’s coronation as the King of men’s tennis, with an Australian Open final rematch with Nadal in Acapulco.

Nadal, notching up his 21st Grand Slam by reeling in Medvedev from two sets down at Melbourne Park, remains undefeated in 2022 ahead of their semi-final clash on Saturday.

“It’s always special to play against him. Kind of a chance to get my revenge,” Medvedev added in Acapulco with a smirk.

“I have to learn from the best, which is him, Roger, Novak, Andy. Always when they were losing a tough fight, they were trying to get their revenge.”

Chance for Daniil to prove why he is now No.1.