Medvedev hungry for more clay success after dismantling Djokovic

The world No. 14 surged into his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final with a three-set triumph over the top seed in Monte Carlo, but he is far from content.

Daniil Medvedev's joy after his win over Novak Djokovic in Monte-Carlo 2019© Chryslène Caillaud/FFT
 - Alex Sharp

"It's definitely the best match of my career, definitely by the result. First Masters 1000 semi-final, beating No.1 for the first time in my life, just amazing."

The words of an elated Daniil Medvedev having outplayed top seed Novak Djokovic 6-3 4-6 6-2 to catapult into the Monte Carlo Masters final four.

The Russian, a local in the Principality having made Monaco his base in the past two years, has been part of the #NextGen contingent disrupting the established guard in men’s tennis. However, very few would have called his major breakthrough to occur on clay.

There is reason why. Prior to the Monte Carlo Masters the world No.14 had only chalked up two victories from 11 tour-level matches on a clay court. This week he appears transformed with a laser-like backhand barely missing, canny point construction and pulsating power.

“When I was junior, I loved clay. Now what I can say is that I have played better on hard surface, but the thing is that it's been three years since I have been on the circuit,” explained the Russian, citing factors outside his control for a lack of success on the red dirt.

“Now I feel fine, I am happy“

“I was injured the first year. Then I had mononucleosis that kept me away from the courts for a certain time. I only played three tournaments that year, and I remember that I was cramping two out of three matches due to that.

“Last year, the same thing. I had problems with my knee, some personal problems too, and I couldn't be 100 percent on the court. That happens. Now I feel fine. I am happy. I have only prepared one week, but it was a very good week, so I feel ready.”


That week of preparation was boosted by former Roland Garros quarter-finalist Igor Andreev joining Medvedev in Caen for clay season preparation alongside his regular coach Gilles Cervara.

“Yes, I think he helped a lot. But then again, if you give me too much advice, I get blocked and I cannot play anymore. But he is a very calm person, and he gives the advice that is necessary,” said Medvedev, reflecting on the training with his compatriot.

“He's not giving too much, just a precise level of advice I need. So, it's been a very good week with him, and he's not here because he’s the captain at Fed Cup. But with Gilles, they made a very good team.”

The Russian is tricky to face

The 23-year-old broke the world No.1 five times on Friday to overturn a 0-3 record against the reigning Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion in an enthralling two hours, 20 minutes battle.

"He played worse than he did the times before and also I'm getting more experienced. I'm starting to make these top guys know that it's tough to play against me," declared Medvedev.

Djokovic echoed that sentiment, revealing why the Russian is so tricky to face.

“Well, he's got a very solid backhand. He doesn't make many mistakes from the backhand. He hits it very low with depth,” said the top seed.

“He doesn't give you much rhythm. He's got a big serve. His forehand can be effective… but he improved his movement a lot since last year. He definitely deserves to be where he is.”

Medvedev now leads the tour

As well as his scorching shots and rapid movement, the stamina and focus of Medvedev appears to have flourished in recent months, enabling him to build this standout week in Monte Carlo.

There were 46 rallies which went into the ‘9+’ shots category against Djokovic, he simply wore the world No.1 down and had all the answers without wilting physically.

Medvedev now leads the tour with 21 match wins in 2019, three more than the chasing pack of Roger Federer and Stefanos Tsitsipas, but the four-time ATP titlist is far from satisfied heading into the weekend.

“I want to win it“

“Just happy. At the same time, until you win a tournament, you're never too happy, because I have a semi-final to play tomorrow,” added Medvedev. “I want to win it (smiling).”

Standing in his way is the resurgent Dusan Lajovic.

The world No. 48 replicated the level he produced to prevail past Dominic Thiem to edge out Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 6-4 7-5 earlier on Friday.