Medvedev on the outside looking in

24 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Medvedev on the outside looking in

The Sunday Mail

DANIIL MEDVEDEV began his Miami Open campaign on Friday but the Russian is likely to struggle to generate the kind of interest usually reserved for a defending champion as fans focus their attention on the budding rivalry between Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner.

Medvedev arrived on the tennis scene trying to muscle in on the Big Three’s monopoly of the spotlight occupied by Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal.

But even as that generation rides off into the sunset, Medvedev, now 28, again finds himself the odd man out as world number two Alcaraz and Australian Open champion Sinner set stadiums alight.

“I’m trying to catch them here and there,” Medvedev said.

“But for me, it’s always a good challenge when we have these young guys coming up. It makes you only better.

“The more I will play, the more younger guys come, and the more I will try to adapt my game and that’s what I’m trying to do right now.”

Straddling two generations, Medvedev has never quite fit in with either.

His talent is without question with a resume featuring a US Open title and five other appearances in Grand Slam finals.

If anything has held Medvedev back, it is his inability to deliver consistently at the biggest moments, losing twice in Grand Slam finals to Nadal and twice more to Djokovic, who is not competing in the Miami Open.

And Medvedev is beginning to exhibit that same failing against the new leaders of the pack.

Winning the first two sets against Sinner in the Australian Open final, Medvedev crumbled and lost the next three as the Italian claimed his first Grand Slam crown.

It was Alcaraz who ended the Russian’s hopes in the Wimbledon semi-finals last year, while the Spaniard also defeated Medvedev in the last two Indian Wells finals.

Fans have been slow to warm to the enigmatic Medvedev, who has played the role of villain, as well as crowd favourite.

He conceded that it is not just winning that matters to fans but how you get the job done.

“I think it’s in every sport when you play defensively, people want to see the shots,” said Medvedev. “As soon as Carlos came on the tour, he gained a lot of fans because he crushes the ball.

“For me, the result is the most important, it’s more important than to, let’s say, be beautiful on the court.

“When players can mix it up, it’s, in my opinion, even more beautiful.” — AFP

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