On court and online, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Shevchenko have different approaches to success.

“Like in tennis, I’m on the counter-attacking side where I try to be aggressive but still find sneaky spots,” the Rainbow Six Siege Game Ambassador explained last summer. “It’s a very strategic game, but some people will try to play it like other games where they rush and try to kill straight away.

“Alex was that kind of player who would rush in all the time, kill two or three players in the beginning, lose a round and be like, ‘Where were you guys?’ We’re like, we were just trying to see where the opponents are and he was just going full-on into the field.”

Facing off at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Medvedev’s patience won out on court for a second time, claiming a 6-3, 7-5 victory over his younger rival in just under 90 minutes on Center Court.

The pair famously met online before each realizing that the other was a professional tennis player, and their first meeting at last year’s Mutua Madrid Open pushed the clay-ambivalent Medvedev to the brink with the fast-rising Shevchenko pushing Medvedev to 7-5 in the third set.


Playing on a more comfortable hard court—on which Medvedev is the defending champion—things went more smoothly for the top seed, who was playing his first match since finishing runner-up to Jannik Sinner at the Australian Open.

"He played well, especially in the second set," Medvedev said on court. "That's why the score was tougher in the second set, but I managed to play a very good game when he served for the set. I'm happy with my level because it's not easy to come back after an injury. You always try to put your game back straightaway, so I'm happy to beat such a good opponent.

"When you take a week or two off, but it's something you planned, it's easy. But I took a week and a half off by myself and when I started feeling pains here and there, you're not practicing 100% and thinking about whether you feel pain or not, or whether you play in Dubai or not! It's tricky because when you go for a match, you have to forget about it. If you're thinking about something other than tennis, you're going to lose!"

Medvedev had taken most of February off to recover from what had been an exhausting, but largely satisfying first Grand Slam of 2024—skipping tournaments in Rotterdam and Doha—yet the 2021 US Open champion didn’t appear rusty as he took a quick double-break advantage on Shevchenko.

The 23-year-old Russian-born Kazakh took a medical time out to address pain in his elbow, and though he was able to reclaim one of the breaks, Medvedev stepped in to nonetheless take the opening set in relatively short order.

Shevchenko launched a formidable counter-attack in the second set, flying into a forehand winner to break Medvedev and move within a game of leveling the match. Medvedev rallied to break back as Shevchenko served for the set, approaching the net on break point and forcing a forehand error from his frustrated opposition.

Winning a third straight game, Medvedev earned two match points off another Shevchenko forehand miss. Shevchenko saved one with a strong serve but was overwhelmed by Medvedev's return on the second, ending the the contest with a friendly exhchange at the net.

"I want to think that it doesn't add any pressure," Medvedev said of being Dubai's defending champion. "But to be honest, I'm not 20 anymore, and I want to defend a title somewhere, at least once in my career. I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it but time is passing! I'll try here this week; it's not going to be easy against a lot of great players, but I hope I can do it."