World number two Daniil Medvedev is enjoying a very good week in Miami.
In fact, he is one win away from securing the world number one ranking once again.
Victory tonight against defending champion Hubert Hurkacz, will mean that Medvedev will kick off April next week, in pole position going into the third Masters event of the year, in Monte Carlo.
Which ironically, is home for the 26-year-old Russian.
This week he has blown away the likes of former world number one, Britain’s Andy Murray in straight sets.
As well as Spain’s Pedro Martinez and American Jenson Brooksby, and is yet to drop a set.
It’s safe to say Medvedev has been in inspired form.
And why? He looks motivated to claim back what he sees as rightfully his…the world number one name tag.
As well as the fact that the reigning US Open champion knows that he underperformed in California, after going down in three sets to Gaël Monfils.
But how can he improve?
Well, Medvedev is seen by some as incredibly strong on hard-courts but weak on the likes of clay and grass.
If he is to improve on these surfaces, he’s going to need a mentor.
Now, how awesome would it be if he recruited one of his idols in Marat Safin.
A former world number one, if anyone knows the kind of pressure Medvedev will face when the whole of the ATP Tour wants to beat you, it’s Safin.
Ironically, both players have appeared in a total of four Grand Slam finals.
They also share the similarity of both having won the US Open.
For Safin, his maiden Grand Slam victory came in New York way back in the year 2000 against home hope, Pete Sampras.
Think how hard a challenge that was for the then 20-year-old Russian.
But he had balls of steel to beat Sampras in his prime. A player who was world number one, riding high with seven Wimbledon titles and 13 Grand Slam titles to his name.
He would later go on to win his 14th and final major in 2002 at the US Open.
However, case and point is that Safin beat a player nine years his senior, and one of the best of all time, in his first ever Grand Slam final.
That shows how well Safin knows tennis and can handle nerves on the biggest stages in the world.
The only difference now is that he finished his career with two Grand Slams, and was therefore two for two in major finals.
Medvedev has won one, being last year’s US Open against Novak Djokovic and has lost the other three. Two against Rafael Nadal and another to Djokovic.
Like Safin, Medvedev also has a natural affinity for hard-courts.
Both have enjoyed success at the Australian Open and US Open. Medvedev with two final appearances at each. Safin with three Australian Open finals and one US Open.
Safin’s final Grand Slam title coming at the 2005 Australian Open, which was more or less the last time a man other than Roger Federer, Nadal or Djokovic would win a major over 15 years.
With Murray and Stan Wawrinka three times each, Marin Cilic, Juan Martin Del Potro, Dominic Thiem, and of course Medvedev one apiece, breaking the mould.
So, what can Safin add?
After that history lesson, you can see some clear parallels in their careers.
Yes, Safin also was not successful on clay or grass, like the current day Medvedev, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t help the modern-day Russian sports star.
If anything, the 42-year-old is seen as one of the legends of the game, and is often referenced by Federer as someone that pushed the Swiss to the limit, and got the best out of him in the early stages of his career.
That’s how highly Safin is rated within the game.
So, just think if that knowledge and experience was tapped into to help Medvedev to finally conqueror two surfaces he has struggled with in recent years.
We’ve seen Murray work with legend Ivan Lendl for a third time now. As well as both Cilic and Djokovic turning to Croatian and former Wimbledon champion, Goran Ivanišević.
Kei Nishikori has had Michael Chang in his corner for nearly a decade. Whilst Nadal has experienced stunning success with former world number one Carlos Moyá, his own idol.
Federer himself has former world number four, Ivan Ljubičić. Although, not a Grand Slam champion himself, the knowledge of a former top ten player can prove invaluable, especially in high pressure match situations.
Overall Verdict – James Spencer (Twitter @jspencer28)
For Medvedev to stay at the top of the sport and become one of the best of all time, he may well need a man like Safin to help him to achieve this goal.
Of course, he got there without a super coach which was all the more impressive, and worthy of respect.
However, if he wants to challenge Nadal on clay, and Djokovic on grass, recruiting someone with experience, and know-how, could well prove the catalyst to help him make the minor adjustments needed to become a major force on those surfaces.
Sometimes converting weaknesses into our greatest strengths is the most fulfilling journey of all.
With both the clay and grass-court seasons on the horizon, now might be the perfect time for Medvedev to give one of his idols a call.
Rafael Nadal Apologizes To Opponent After Wimbledon Win
The Spaniard admits he made a mistake.
Rafael Nadal said he was ‘wrong’ to call his opponent to the net during the third set of their third round match at Wimbledon.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion booked his place in the last 16 of the tournament by defeating Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Nadal, who hasn’t won Wimbledon for more than a decade, was out in full flow as he raced to a two-set and 4-2 lead. At that point, Sonego managed to get the roof to be closed due to poor lighting.
After speaking to the umpire, Nadal called his opponent to the net for a discussion over what is believed to be about the noise he was making during the match. After losing his 4-2 advantage, Nadal battled back by breaking once again to secure victory.
“Well, first of all, I have to say that I was wrong. Probably I should not call him on the net. So I apologize for that. My mistake in that. No problem. I recognise that,” said Nadal.
“Then after that, all the stuff during the match that I don’t want to comment (on), because is something that I spoke with him in the locker room and it stays there. Only thing I can say is I saw him personally. I apologise for that.
“My intention was never to bother him at all. Just to tell one thing that was bothering me that I think he was doing in that moment, but that’s it.
“I think there is some code between players. Yeah, we had some issues there. But that’s it.”
The two shared a lengthy exchange at the net after the conclusion of the match and there were no hard feelings between either player.
Controversy aside, Nadal has hailed what he believed is his best performance at The All England Club yet. Against Soego, he won 73% of his service points and hit 24 winners.
“It was my best match, without a doubt, since the tournament started,” said Nadal. “I have made improvements and I’m very happy.’
“I’ve made I think a lot of things much better than the previous days, the determination, the way that I manage to play more aggressively and going to the net plenty of times.”
Nadal will play Dutch world number 25 Botic van de Zandschulp in the last 16.
“Every Match Is A War” – Carlos Alcaraz Excels With Best Performance Yet At Wimbledon
The world No.7 reacts to his latest win ahead of a showdown with a fellow rising star of the sport.
Carlos Alcaraz believes he is quickly finding his footing on the grass after storming into the fourth round of Wimbledon on Friday.
Alcaraz, who is playing in only his second grass-court tournament as a pro player, blasted his way past Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-3, 6-1, 6-2, in exactly 100 minutes. The Spaniard dropped only 14 points behind his serve as he hit a total of 37 winners against eight unforced errors.
“I played unbelievable. This was my best performance so far. So I’m really happy with the level, and I will try to keep this level into the next round.” Alcaraz said afterwards.
The 19-year-old has been a revelation on the Tour this season which has already seen him crack the world’s top 10 and win two Masters 1000 titles. He currently holds the record for the youngest player to ever win an ATP 500 event, as well as being the youngest to score back-to-back wins over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same tournament.
In one way Alcaraz’s rapid rise in the sport is illustrated by his current campaign at Wimbledon. In the first round he found it tough going throughout his five-set win over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Learning from that experience, his form improved in the second round against Tallon Griekspoor (who he defeated in straight sets) and even more so against Otte.
“Every match is a war. Every match you can play unbelievable or you can play your worst match,” he explains. “Obviously Monday was my first match on grass (this year). It was really tough. Struff played unbelievable.’
“After four, five days the training, the matches, you learn how to play more on grass, how to move more on grass.”
“Now I feel more comfortable playing on grass, and I feel better on grass right now.”
Alcaraz’s next ‘war’ will be another rising star of the Tour – Jannik Sinner. A player who is less than two years older than him. They locked horns last year at the Paris Masters where the Spaniard prevailed in two close sets. Alcaraz also won their meeting at a Challenger event in Alicante back in 2019.
With a place in a Grand Slam quarter-final at stake, it is expected to be a tough battle. Although a challenge is something Alcaraz thrives on.
“Playing against Jannik is always tough. I like to play these kinds of matches, these kinds of challenges.” He said.
“On grass you have to play aggressive, you have to go to the net, you have to try to play more aggressively than the opponent. That’s my idea that I try in every match, to not let the opponent dominate the match.” He added.
The upcoming showdown will be Alcaraz’s sixth Tour-level match on grass which is only two less than that of Sinner.
Novak Djokovic Shrugs Off Threat Of Covid-19 Outbreak At Wimbledon
The world No.3 explains why he is not ‘overconcenred’ about COVID-19 at the Grand Slam.
Novak Djokovic says the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak at Wimbledon is one that doesn’t concern him too much after a trio of top-20 players withdrew.
Earlier this week Marin Cilic, Matteo Berrettini and Roberto Bautista Agut all withdrew from the tournament after testing positive for the virus. Unlike the strict protocols that were in place last year, The All England Club has based its policy on local health advice. Where it is recommended that a person takes action if they have symptoms of the virus but they are not required to do so.
With fewer testing measures in place at Wimbledon, there is a high possibility that there are people working on site carrying COVID-19 without realizing it. However, the threat to players is one that reigning champion Djokovic is not too concerned about.
“I did visit the city (London) a few times before the tournament started but I’m not overconcerned about anything. I’m just trying to stay healthy, focused and play the tournament.” Djokovic said following his third round win.
“I’m not thinking about whether or not I’m going to catch COVID. But being cautious is something that is a necessity I think for everyone, and particularly because we have been through what we’ve been through in the last two years.”
Djokovic is one of the few top players who didn’t have a vaccination against covid. Resulting in him having a high-profile legal dispute with Australian authorities which resulted in his deportation and him missing the Australian Open. The tennis star later explained that he didn’t want to be vaccinated as he is cautious about what will be injected into his body. Even though the vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization.
However, nemesis Rafael Nadal said on Thursday that he is taking extra precautions due to the threat. To common knowledge, there is no rule in place preventing a player who tests positive for Covid from playing in the Grand Slam.
“I am not doing many things. Just staying here (at Wimbledon) and staying in the house, not going out at all anymore. That’s part of this challenging world that we are facing in the last couple of years.” Nadal said.
“I am not saying that we are not doing things the proper way because at some point we need to open everything again, we need to be free, have a normal life.”
According to the National Office of Statistics (ONS) it is estimated that 1 in 30 people currently have the virus in the UK in the week ending June 24th.
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