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'Terrible'? In fact, the opposite: No days off for Daniil Medvedev in Miami
Daniil Medvedev thought the Miami Open was “gonna be terrible” for him when he got there. Instead, the man who doesn’t take a match off walked away with his fourth title in five events.
Published Apr 02, 2023
WATCH: The No. 5 seed beat Jannik Sinner in Sunday's final at the Miami Open for his fifth ATP 1000 title.
As far as tennis philosophies go, “I want to win every match I play,” is hardly the most profound. But it may be the best explanation for how Daniil Medvedev has won four titles in his last five tournaments and 24 of his last 25 matches. He capped that run on Sunday with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Jannik Sinner in the final of the Miami Open, for his first Masters 1000 crown since 2021.
Medvedev said, “I want to win every match I play” fairly early in his streak, after reaching his second final in a row, in Doha, on Feb. 24. He knew he was playing well at that point, having won a 500-level event in Rotterdam a few days earlier. And he knew that he had gone on multi-tournament win streaks in the past. But only in his wildest and boldest dreams would he have dared to imagine that he would win nearly every match he played until April 2nd.
Winning breeds confidence, but it’s still not easy, in the non-stop grind of the tour, to make it breed more winning right away. A player might be tired after winning a title. Or he might have a mental let down. Or he might be banged up from the physical stress. Or he might have trouble adjusting to new conditions in a new city. Most important, when one of those things happens, he might be a little less willing to dig deep, because he’s satisfied with his trophy and his title from the previous week, and he knows there’s always another tournament coming.
When he got to Miami, after losing badly to Carlos Alcaraz in the Indian Wells final, Medvedev didn’t really have another title on his mind.
“I was completely exhausted after Indian Wells, I had a few problems with the body,” he said. “When I came here, I said, ‘First few days are gonna be terrible. I just have to be ready for the first match.’”
Medvedev was ready for his first match, and then got lucky and received a walkover from Alex Molcan. He beat a solid opponent in Quentin Halys in a late-night, rain-delayed match that was pushed to the Grandstand. He beat crowd favorite Chris Eubanks, who was playing the tennis of his life. He beat friend and fellow Russian Karen Khachanov in three tough sets in the semifinals. And on the hottest and most humid day of the tournament, when he came out tight, he beat the most in-form player of the week, Jannik Sinner.
Medvedev would have had a decent excuse for losing any of those matches, being satisfied with his Sunshine Double performance, and heading home to Monte Carlo and the clay season a little early. In his case, though, the competitive juices always start to flow. As we’ve seen many times, when things don’t go his way, they can overflow, too. But while Medvedev might moan about court surfaces, mock hostile audiences, and call chair umpires “stupid,” the effort and the desire are there. You don’t win 24 of 25 by taking days off, or saving yourself for the Slams.
On Sunday, Medvedev came out feeling and playing subpar. He double faulted three times in one early game. But he said he took heart from the fact that Sinner appeared to be in even worse shape.
“I said, ‘Damn, it’s tough,’” Medvedev said of the conditions. “And then I looked at him.”
He didn’t have to look for long to see that the 21-year-old Italian wasn’t tip-top. He was walking slowly and taking as much time as possible between points, and he needed just three games to make 13 unforced errors. Clearly Sinner’s super-heated three-set win over Carlos Alcaraz on Friday night had taken its toll.
Sinner fought gamely, pushed Medvedev to 5-5 in the second set, and managed to keep the second set within one break. But he didn’t have the same energy in his step, and could never mount the kind of offensive, all-court attack that would have been needed to beat Medvedev. He finished with 36 errors, 15 more than the Russian.
Medvedev, meanwhile, did what he does. He served big, winning 86 percent of his first-serve points, and counterpunched well. His forehand, never his best shot, was a weapon from well back in the court today. With the win, he moves to No. 1 in the 2023 race. His straight-sets loss to Sebastian Korda at the Australian Open feels like a long time ago now.
“I managed to turn my game around in the quarters [at Rotterdam],” Medvedev said today. “Since then, I’m riding the wave.”
How far will that wave take him? Medvedev got some good news this week, when the LTA announced that Wimbledon won’t ban players from Russia or Belarus this year. Granted, he’ll be leaving hard courts and heading into his least-favorite part of the season, the clay swing, and he’ll have almost no preparation before Monte Carlo begins next week. But nothing is bothering Medvedev too much at the moment.
“I’ll prepare myself and try not to lose my mind,” he said today of his approach to clay.
We know he’ll play to win, and the competitive juices will flow, and that’s all we can ask.