Before Rafael Nadal won his 18th and 19th Grand Slam titles, before Novak Djokovic crushed the souls of Roger Federer fans once again, and before all of Cocomania, there was Miami. This was the last hard-court tournament, before today, that Daniil Medvedev entered and failed to reach the final.
Yet it wasn’t Roger, Rafa or Novak that snapped the 23-year-old’s six-tournament streak. It was, of all players, Jeremy Chardy—along with, perhaps, some nods to the cumulative physical effects of all those Medvedev matches, along with a Parisian crowd giving the Frenchman a boost when many players are ready to wind down.
Break points were Medvedev's breaking point on Tuesday; he converted just one of 15 in the match, and none of nine in the third set. It's a confounding stat to figure, particularly after a solid start after an extended break from competition. On a two-tournament winning streak, but having withdrawn from two tournaments since (Moscow and Vienna), Medvedev's form was an unknown, but an argument could be made for either side.
Look at the numbers–he's been unbeatable!
Just two weeks away? He's still too fatigued!
He's had too much rest!
Ultimately, it was Chardy who proved the decisive factor, despite Medvedev's substantial missed opportunities. One of those 15 break points was saved in the last game—certainly a nervy one for Chardy, who had lost his last 10 matches against Top 10 players. But having turned around the match with a 6-2 second set, and having held firm on all of the match's crucial points, Chardy made one final push. It's easy to envision Medvedev winning this match had even one of those nine third-set break points gone his way.
But it didn't, and so went the match, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. It wasn't without a last-ditch effort, though. Medvedev challenged the last out call, which in turn inspired some light-hearted boos from the Parisian crowd. It was nothing Medvedev hasn't experienced before.
Medvedev hears it from the fans at the US Open:
Medvedev got his opponent's best effort today—that was nothing he hasn't experienced before, either. Now a Top 5 player, he'll be getting everyone's best shot in 2020, and during his last tournament of 2019, the ATP Finals.
But an early-round exit at a hard-court tournament? Medvedev hasn't experienced that since March. Cheers to that run, and cheers to Chardy, now into the third round and on a run of his own.