It’s crazy how quickly great players can turn a slump into a streak. After cursing the clay multiple times in both Madrid and Rome, the world No. 2 has found his footing Paris, and there might be a big reason why.

“As soon as I came here, these balls are much lighter,” Medvedev said in press. “They go faster in the air, so that’s why I can also make them drop faster before the baseline.”

The balls players use vary from tournament to tournament, but the way certain balls react to their strings varies even more. The Dunlop balls used this year are much lighter and more maneuverable than the Wilson ball used last year. Evidently, that’s all it has taken for Medvedev to shift from a sure bust candidate to a legitimate contender.

After a middling 1-2 record this clay court season—including a loss to his Sunday opponent Cristian Garin—the Russian has won nine consecutive sets by at least a one-break margin, and just broke an in-form Reilly Opelka five times in one match. Through his first three matches in Paris, Medvedev has converted 20 out of 46 break point chances.


Clement Mahoudeau, Getty Images

Clement Mahoudeau, Getty Images

Meanwhile, Garin is lucky to still be in the tournament. He survived UTR’s No. 238-ranked Juan Ignacio Londero after four close sets in round one and probably should have lost to Mackenzie McDonald—prevailing thanks to several key misses on match points from the American. He then defeated Southern California native Marcos Giron in another four sets on Friday.

It seems Sunday’s match is the perfect storm for tennis bettors. Thanks to his five clay-court titles (all at the ATP 250 level) and recent defeat of Medvedev, Garin may have received a bit too much respect from the oddsmakers. Combine that with Medvedev’s historically sub-par clay court metrics, and we have a beautiful line with Medvedev listed as just a 4.5 game favorite.

There are about a dozen reasons why Medvedev should cover this game spread, but none more important than both the serve and return prowess advantage in his favor. Not only does Medvedev have one of the best serves on tour, his range on the return might be his biggest strength. There should be a large disparity in free points earned on serve between the two.

Medvedev is gaining confidence quickly, and his cat-like court coverage is back in full force. 


There is always a chance Garin plays a great match, and upsets the Russian with his raw power and determination, but Medvedev looks life a different player this week. Expect the world No. 2 to make a statement on Sunday.

The Pick: Daniil Medvedev