EXCLUSIVE: Ex-French Open Finalist Andrei Medvedev Praises Underdog Cecchinato
Ubitennis caught up with the former top five player earlier this week at Roland Garros.
If anybody knows what Italy’s Marco Cecchinato is going through it is former world No.4 Andrei Medvedev.
19 years ago the Ukrainian stunned the men’s tour by reaching the final at Roland Garros. Scoring wins over Pete Sampras and Gustavo Kuerten. At the time he was ranked 104th in the world and was considering quitting the sport all together at the age of 25. Until his Paris run that saw him lose to Andre Agassi in five sets in the final.
“In my personal opinion the guys who play on Roland Garros’ clay, with these balls, if they hit the ball clean and the ball is sitting on the racquet, they have a chance to beat anybody, except maybe… Nadal.” Medvedev told Ubitennis.
This year’s underdog of the tournament is world No.72 Cecchinato. He had never won a grand slam match prior to the tournament after suffering four first round losses. His fortunes changed with a breakout run that saw him score wins over Pablo Carreno Busta, David Goffin and Novak Djokovic. His win over Djokovic, where he prevailed 13-11 in the fourth set tiebreaker, is something that has drawn praised from Medvedev.
“Marco has played great, this week. I watched almost all of the third and fourth sets of his match against Djokovic, plus a lot of the beginning.” He starts to explain.
“In the final tiebreaker the guy did not make any unforced errors, in 24 points, when he should have cracked and gone to the fifth set. He had so many options to crack, and he didn’t. So that means he can play, and he can play at the highest level, he can play in the pressure moments.”
At first glance it appears as if Medvedev’s and Cecchinato’s French Open journeys are quite similar, but that is far from the case. In 1999 the Ukrainian already had experience of what it was like to be a top five player. Achieving the milestone back in 1994. His decline down the rankings was a combination of injuries and a fast lifestyle took its toll on him.
“When I came here in 1999. I was n.104, I was just happy to be playing tennis again after the wrist injury. It was my first tournament with my new racquets, after a while. I was fighting for every point and he (Checchinato) is fighting for every point, he does not want to lose, he gives everything.”
Cecchinato will take on Dominic Thiem in Friday’s semi-final. The Austrian world No.8 will be bidding to reach his first grand slam final at the age of 24. On paper, Thiem is the overwhelming favourite to win. Although, Medvedev doesn’t see that as a foregone conclusion.
“I honestly think he has a chance against Thiem, who’s playing very good, very heavy, very deep, very everything.” The 43-year-old concluded.
It remains to be seen if Cecchinato can continue his form beyond Roland Garros. The upcoming grass swing is unfamiliar territory for the Italian. Incredibly, he has only played one professional tournament on the grass in his entire career. That was last year at Wimbledon, where he lost 6-2, 6-2, 6-0, to Kei Nishikori in the first round.
You can listen to Ubitennis’ full interview with Medvedev below :-