Last October in Shanghai, Vasek Pospisil gave the hottest player at the time, Daniil Medvedev, everything he could handle. Medvedev ultimately fended off the Canadian, 7-6 (7), 7-5, and went on to complete his torrid hard-court stretch with his second ATP Masters 1000 crown, but the blueprint for Pospisil was there.
On Wednesday, the two met again in the first round of Rotterdam. The world No. 5 mistakenly allowed Pospisil to be the sole aggressor, and the final result, a 6-4, 6-3 victory, spoke volumes about how far the Vancouver native has come since their last meeting, and what he's capable of producing at full strength. Medvedev often relies on his consistency and defending skills to flummox opponents, but that isn't enough against this version of Pospisil. He volleys too well and covers the net too effectively.
Down an early break, Pospisil once again turned to the bottle— of pure maple syrup that is— and handcuffed the Russian, winning 12 of the remaining 17 games. Medvedev had no answer for his opponent's unrelenting pace and aggression, and as a result, Pospisil notched his first Top 5 victory since 2017 Indian Wells, where he knocked out then-No. 1 Andy Murray.
“I had a little bit of a slow start,” Pospisil said, “I got a little lucky there at 4-4, love-40, I came up with some big serves at the right time. “It could have been a different match had I not hit those perfect serves.”
Pospisil currently rates as the 14th best player in the world according to his trending UTR, and while few people saw this upset coming, it certainly makes sense. Since October, Pospisil has beaten Diego Schwartzman, Karen Khachanov, Reilly Opelka, Fabio Fognini, Denis Shapovalov, David Goffin and now Medvedev. It's safe to say Pospisil's perseverance in surmounting a chronic back issue and trusting the process is being rewarded.
The 29-year-old will take on the talented Filip Krajinovic on Thursday. Of the three ATP finals the Serbian has reached, two came indoors, including the 2017 Paris Masters.