Daniil Medvedev battled three opponents on Wednesday morning as he went to war with himself, opponent Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, and the surface itself as he attempted to snap a six-match losing streak on clay.

The Russian had initially showed promise on the terre battue—shocking world No. 1 Novak Djokovic en route to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in 2019—but arrived in Madrid this week having not won a match on clay since April 2019, when he finished runner-up to Dominic Thiem in Barcelona.

His relationship to the dirt has been a source of self-deprecating humor on social media, as Medvedev listed an end to the losing streak high among his 2021 goals, and seemingly hit an all-time low when he dropped the opening set to Davidovich Fokina.


"I don't want to play here on this surface," Medvedev exclaimed after repeatedly swiping his racquet on the court, for which he later received a soft warning from umpire Adel Nour.

The argument was ultimately another opportunity to unleash his ire.

"I cannot do damage to a bad surface," he insisted. "It's already damaged."

The Russian, who missed Monte Carlo this year due to COVID-19, nonetheless regrouped to sweep the final two sets from his Spanish opposition and end the streak in fairly emphatic fashion. In an about-face from his earlier exclamation, he cheekily wrote "Love clay :)" on the camera lens.

Told in an on-court interview that he deprived Spanish journalists the opportunity to write articles about a would-be upset, Medvedev joked, "I don't think beating me on clay is a 'giant' headline."


"A lot of matches on clay I lost like this before so I knew, 'Okay, there is nothing to do else than continue playing,' because I was playing not bad," he said later on in press. "I managed to actually, finish the important moments with some good shots, and that was the key to win the match."

Has the No. 2 seed come around on clay? Not quite.

"No. I probably will say that even if I win Roland Garros, at a moment probably when Rafa retires, maybe it will be just a little bit easier. I will still like other surfaces more, but it's only my opinion so I don't pretend to have the truthful opinion."

Medvedev will take on another dirtballer in the next round when he plays No. 16 seed Cristian Garin for a spot in the quarterfinals.