Medvedev Masters Shanghai to keep marching towards the top

 - Alex Sharp

The Russian continued his remarkable recent form to clinch back-to-back Masters 1000 titles

Daniil Medvedev after a win during the 2019 US Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

“In the past few months, you’re probably the best player in the world. How you’re playing is unbelievable. Six finals in a row, I think you can maybe make it nine or 10 in a row…”

Alexander Zverev was using his dry sense of humour in the trophy presentation to congratulate Daniil Medvedev, but the German’s joke has a significant chance of coming true.

The mercurial Medvedev continues to soar in 2019, lifting his second successive Masters 1000 title with a 6-4, 6-1 passage past the rejuvenated Zverev in the Shanghai final on Sunday.

Thriving on a nine-match winning streak

The stats certainly back up Zverev’s claim, as the Russian arrived in China at a career-high ranking of world No.4. Since the start of August, the 23-year-old has been heralded champion at the Cincinnati Masters, alongside an enthralling fortnight in New York to feature in a maiden Grand Slam final at the US Open.

His 59 victories and nine finals lead the way on Tour in 2019, whilst prevailing in 29 of his past 32 matches.

Daniil Medvedev wawing to the crowd at the 2019 US Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

In fact, since losing his thrilling five-set final to Rafael Nadal at Flushing Meadows in early September, Medvedev is thriving on a nine-match winning streak, all of which have been punched onto the scoreboard in straight sets.

“It’s really amazing to win this Masters, it is one of the most prestigious tournaments on the Tour. Looking at the past 10 years, only three players (Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray) have won this trophy and now me.

“It’s really special to now get my photo in the corridor for many years,” declared Medvedev, mystified by his extraordinary consistency at the very peak of his powers.

“If someone had said this a year ago I wouldn’t have believed them. It’s something outrageous I’ve done in the last few months.”

Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal during the trophy presentation of the 2019 US Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

"Everybody is talking that they need new guys"

His unorthodox, flat strokes keep opponents guessing, his ability to laser passing shots on the run makes opponents approach the net with caution. Medvedev has an absorbing ability to manoeuvre out of most tricky situations.

Medvedev is the ultimate menace across the net, but there wasn’t the slightest celebration having swept aside Zverev for a third Top 10 win in a row in Shanghai.

"Since the US Open, I don't celebrate my wins. I just stay calm, I do my job and, bam, done,” remarked the relentless Russian.

"Everybody is talking that they need new guys, something new, so I gave them something new.”

Daniil definitely delivered.

Daniil Medvedev hitting a forehand at the 2019 US Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Zverev back on course

Rewind two years and it was Zverev who burst through the ‘big three’ dominance to earn two Masters 1000 titles. Incredibly, Medvedev only had one Grand Slam match win to his name and was well and truly out of the spotlight at world No.61 in the rankings.

For all the Next Gen hype, Medvedev has remained on the fringes of the conversation, but is now the real, genuine threat to the established guard.

Zverev had been that leader for some considerable time, but has faltered in 2019 with only slight glimpses of the type of form which landed the ATP Finals trophy last November.

Ivan Lendl has departed as coach and the erratic nature of the German’s game, particularly on serve, has been the tale of the 22-year-old’s turbulent summer.

However, a trip to China seems to have jolted Zverev back on course. Frances Tiafoe and Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his all-court artillery in Beijing, before he posted wins over Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini in Shanghai.

Daniil Medvedev in the beautiful light and shadow at the 2019 US Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Majestic Medvedev leading the NextGen

Significantly, Zverev’s captivating quarter-final 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3 triumph over Roger Federer, which included five match points dismissed in the second set, illustrated his mental resolve and warned the rest of his peers that Sascha is back.

“I’m on a good path again. But obviously I have to be on this path for a longer period of time,” said Zverev. “But making finals of a Masters is huge for me right now, and I'm very happy about that.”

The Shanghai final was the first Masters 1000 silverware showdown to feature players under 24 since Novak Djokovic (22) and Gael Monfils (23) duelled in the Rolex Paris Masters of 2009.

Medvedev has been majestic, Zverev appears to have turned a corner and Next Gen prospects have been bolstered by Tsitsipas toppling Djokovic last week in Shanghai.

The question of how to stop Nadal, Federer or Djokovic has been asked for over a decade, but now the narrative is how to deny Daniil.