Medvedev takes a set to find his rhythm, but eventually overcomes a strong Dimitrov - UBITENNIS
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Medvedev takes a set to find his rhythm, but eventually overcomes a strong Dimitrov

Daniil Medvedev ousted out Grigor Dimitrov in three sets to reach the quarter-finals in Vienna.



Daniil Medvedev (@TheTennisLetter - Twitter)

Medvedev plays two great sets; the Russian emerges as one of the favorites of the tournament and is clearly in contention to retain the title.

By Federico Bertelli

(1) D. Medvedev b G. Dimitrov 3-6 6-2 6-4

Sparkling tennis presented here in Vienna by Medvedev and Dimitrov, in a clash of styles that has greatly entertained the paying crowd, who flocked in large numbers taking advantage of the Austrian national holiday. The result was somewhat expected even though Dimitrov was coming from a great period of form, having reached the semifinals in Shanghai. Head-to-head on hard court against Medvedev, he trailed 5-1; however, the past did not influence the Bulgarian who really gave his best shots on this occasion, but against such a Medvedev today, he couldn’t prevail. A pity for Dimitrov, who leaves with his chin up high and with the awareness of having rediscovered excellent tennis.

First set: Dimitrov starts well

Match between two players who brilliantly overcame their first-round encounters, with Medvedev who demolished Fils and Dimitrov who handled Musetti. The first interesting situation is in the third game on Medvedev’s serve, where he faced two break points due to some unforced errors. Opportunities erased by two winning serves from the Russian. However, Dimitrov earns a third chance with an aggressive return, converting due to another error from Medvedev. Today we see a very active Dimitrov, with footwork working wonders, both in short ball adjustments and in more challenging recoveries, all seasoned with numerous variations and rapid accelerations. If you want a summary of the Bulgarian’s game, revisit the last two points of the sixth game; a real treat.

For Medvedev, a tough day at the office is on the cards; he will have to put in extra hours to bring it home, as he does not seem to be on top form. The problems amplify as the set progresses with the Muscovite continuing to make unforced errors and giving away the double break. At 5-2, the Bulgarian serves for the set. Medvedev’s difficulties seem due to a lack of patience in rally management and the urgency to initiate, so as not to then suffer Dimitrov’s champagne tennis.

Tactically, Grigor is playing a perfect match, varying appropriately with slices both down the line and cross-court, and switching to the forehand whenever possible, but also displaying some beautiful topspin backhands.

Just when the set seems lost, Medvedev decides it’s time to get serious and finally starts rallying patiently, waiting for the right moment to hurt his opponent. Said and done, first break recovered, but Dimitrov understands the importance of the moment and does not let Medvedev catch his breath. A third break of serve conceded by the Russian (a real rarity on indoor courts) despite having served over 75% of first serves in, and the set concludes with a clear 6-3 for the Bulgarian.

Second set favors the Russian

In the second set, the Bulgarian drops his guard a bit in the first game, going from 30-0 up to being broken by the Russian, who gains confidence and starts the set with a completely different attitude.

During the second set, we witness on one hand the growth of Medvedev, and on the other, the stall of Dimitrov, whose serving performance in particular collapses. Dimitrov’s tactic of slowly cooking Medvedev suddenly doesn’t seem to work anymore. The Russian starts to grind with his backhand against the venomous trajectories of the Bulgarian that worked so well in the first set. Once Medvedev gets into the rallies, he then takes control, and his serving also returns to its commanding ways. It’s truly spectacular to see how the match’s momentum shifted during prolonged rallies.

Distribution of points won – first set
Distribution of points won – second set

Third set, the showdown with Medvedev now unbeatable

After two contrasting sets, it heads to the third, with Dimitrov regaining some good vibes and starting with a service game won to love. That Grigor is now fully intent on exerting maximum effort is evident in the way he begins the subsequent game with Daniil serving: Dimitrov is nimble, retrieving everything. He’s also unlucky when trying to advance on the Russian’s second serve, yet still gets to break point.

A grand 33-shot rally follows, in which perhaps Grigor’s only fault is attempting one counterpunch too many when he had the upper hand. Here, however, Medvedev unleashes his best version, initially repelling everything, and then with a down-the-line backhand, he breaks Dimitrov’s resistance for good. The game finally ends with Medvedev passing at the net after a desperate defense by the Bulgarian.

Now, the match elevates in quality as both players showcase their best, with a rain of standout points now. For Dimitrov, it’s crucial to get some help from his serve and to score some quick points; it would be tough to play an entire set this breathlessly. We reach a break point with the Russian leaning wonderfully on Dimitrov’s shots. However, Dimitrov manages to save it after a 27-shot rally, then clinches the game by boldly coming to the net to claim the point, brave given Medvedev’s deadly passing shots. After the first four games of the set, it feels like Medvedev is the favorite. It remains to be seen how much fuel is left in Dimitrov’s tank, as he’s having to fight tooth and nail for every point.

The Russian now returns almost any serve that the Bulgarian throws at him, which is notably without much of a serve-and-volley strategy today. Serving efficiency is undeniably the key differentiator: while Dimitrov struggles to read Medvedev’s serve in the third set, the Russian manages to return with deep, spin-loaded trajectories consistently. Dimitrov now consistently tries to serve over 210 km/h, but the ball doesn’t land in. Another break point opportunity for the Russian, which he wastes with a backhand error after a 17-shot rally. Yet, Medvedev isn’t clinical enough, squandering another break point at a time when Dimitrov just can’t find his first serve. Regardless, today Dimitrov appears to be a cat that always manages to claw its way back from the edge, maintaining a tenuous balance.

In the ninth game, Grigor once again finds himself in a tight spot, going down 0-40, unable to find his first serve and trying unsuccessfully to break through the Russian wall. This time, Dimitrov concedes his service game to love, letting Medvedev serve for the match, who in this game managed to respond to every possible acceleration the Bulgarian threw at him.

Medvedev thus serves for the match, with Dimitrov still playing a couple of spectacular points to get to 30-30. However, Daniil remains unshaken and, with two strong first serves, secures his place in the quarterfinals against Khachanov. Nevertheless, Dimitrov exits with his head held high, having seriously tested Medvedev in what has surely been the match of the tournament so far, filled with hard-fought and exquisite rallies.

Distribution of points won – entire match

In the post-match interview, Medvedev stated, “It was a great match. In the second set, I started to play faster, reduced my errors, and began to move better. In the first set, I made too many mistakes; he was playing well, and I couldn’t find my rhythm. In the second set, I tried to keep more balls in play and then be aggressive when I could.”

For Medvedev, this is his seventh consecutive win here in Vienna, including those from 2022.


Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment



Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries



Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident



Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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