Medvedev finds machine mode to rule Rolex Paris Masters

 - Alex Sharp

The Russian outlasted Alexander Zverev to clinch his third Masters 1000 level trophy in Bercy

Daniil Medvedev fist pumping during the final of the Rolex Paris Masters 2020©Philippe Montigny/FFT

Last season Daniil Medvedev was at his destructive best, his relentless striking wore down opponents as the Russian compiled an impressive four titles from nine championship clashes.

There was a real glint in his eyes as opponents incrementally disintegrated over the other side of the net.

By his own admission, the stop-start nature of the 2020 campaign hasn’t played into his favour, the 24-year-old landed in Paris for the Rolex Paris Masters out of form and drained of confidence.

Daniil Medvedev posing with his Rolex Paris Masters 2020 trophy©Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Fast forward a week in Bercy and the newly stated world No.4 lifted the Tree of Fanti trophy following an absorbing title run.

The gruelling 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Alexander Zverev portrayed a player reinvigorated and rebuilding towards the peak of his powers.

“I was fighting for it like an animal,” declared Medvedev having secured his third Masters 1000 title on Sunday night in Paris. “I think it's not easy for guys to play against me when I play like this… because I'm really trying to make my opponent crazy.”

Medvedev's mastery

There is the crucial component for Medvedev’s mastery; finding ways to make other players go “crazy,” to toil from his concoction of arrowed shots, ridiculous retrieval skills and crafty spins.

 The 24-year-old had this combination in abundance in Paris, ousting the Top 30 quartet of Alex de Minaur, Diego Schwartzman, Milos Raonic and then Zverev for a maiden title of 2020.

Medvedev engaged ‘machine mode’ on Sunday.

Wizarldy spin

Zverev, who had prevailed in five of their six encounters, was in a commanding position at a set up, but as the match progressed, the more he became embroiled in Medvedev’s all-court web.

At 1-1 in the second set, the duo played a lung-bursting rally over 38 shots, which was halted by a flat forehand swatted down the line by the Russian.

Alexander Zverev during the final of the Rolex Paris Masters 2020©Philippe Montigny/FFT

The world No.7’s eyes glazed, unable to fathom how Medvedev kept coming up with the answers. The 15-minute game culminated in a hold for Zverev, four break points saved, but it projected a warning sign.

The 2019 version of Medvedev was back, ready to scrap, twist and manipulate in any point. His wizardly spin on the backhand wing, jabs of disguised forehands and angled winners from deep by the line judges heralded a computer game style showing.

“I was actually crying to my wife"

It has been an astonishing turn around for a player who only notched up three victories in his previous four tournaments, including a first-round exit at Roland-Garros.

“Before the tournament I was not in my best form, playing not so bad with zero finals this year,” mused Medvedev, the fourth Russian to triumph in Bercy, together with compatriots Karen Khachanov, Nikolay Davydenko and Marat Safin.

“I was actually, how can we call it, crying to my wife, not crying, but just complaining, ‘Oh my God, I don’t have the level, I don’t even have one final, I’m playing so bad,’ bla bla bla…

“So finally, I’m the winner of the Rolex Paris Masters, a tournament that I love, first title in France, first final in France – three Masters titles, just super happy and hopefully I can continue this style of game.”

Daniil Medvedev and his wife Daria posing with the trophy at the Rolex Paris Masters 2020.©Philippe Montigny/FFT

A terrible mental game

The 24-year-old will venture back to east London for the ATP Finals from the 15th of November. Last year his tank was empty, posting 0-3 in the round robin group.

12 months ago at the O2 Arena he led Rafael Nadal 5-1 in the decider, but dissolved for a harrowing defeat.

Medvedev is adamant that despite his fluctuating form in 2020, he is far more prepared mentally to tackle his fellow elite stars in east London this time round.

“It was a terrible match. It was a really good match until 5-1, but when you lose such match you can only say it was terrible not only match but terrible mental game from you,” maintained Medvedev.

“You cannot lose a match when you are up 5-1 and a match point. If you want to be on top, you cannot do it. But after, you will not also all your life just be there crying about this match. I knew I had to leave it behind. Just learn from it and learn how, okay, if you're up 5-1 and you lose even your serve on 5-2, you should not go crazy,” he added with a smirk.

“I have been working on my mental strength for a long time. I think I have done a lot of progress, because even if you see me still doing meltdowns, it's nothing compared to what I was when I was a junior, younger. I worked a lot on it, and I'm really happy with how I'm performing with my mental strength many times.”

One last push in London. In ‘machine mode’ Medvedev will be a match for anyone at the ATP Finals.