I’m calling it now: our truly, madly, deeply exhausting search for a Big Three successor is over.
With his maiden Grand Slam victory at the US Open—and subsequent soccer video game-inspired celebration—Daniil Medvedev ascended above the cadre of Next Gen pretenders, and combined the best of his lofty predecessors, to prove himself a worthy heir to no one man, but instead all 3™.
Tracing the Russian’s athletic lineage, he shares the most DNA with Novak Djokovic, making the pair’s hard-court rivalry—one that stretched throughout the season, from an Australian Open defeat to history-halting vengeance in New York—all the more poetic. Djokovic and Medvedev play oppositional tennis, bending both body and ball in ways that defy expectation and imagination.
The two differ most in their delivery: Djokovic comes with all the refinement of a 20-time major champion, where Medvedev stretches in ways that conjure the relentlessness of a Rafael Nadal—or even that of famous cartoon “octopus” Squidward Tentacles, for friends like countryman Andrey Rublev.
“The first coach I had, one woman in Russia, she taught everybody who was in her group, and it was like a group of 10 kids,” Medvedev recalled in 2019 of Ekaterina Kryuchkova, the woman behind the initial development fellow former No. 2 Vera Zvonareva. “She taught us to fight till the last ball, and that's what I did throughout all my life on the tennis court.”