Perhaps not luck, but perseverance, hard work, consistency and some excellent play has finally resulted in Daniil Medevedev reaping the rewards he deserves.
Three weeks in a row in the finals It would not be a good feeling if I lost three finals in a row. I’m just relieved and I’m so happy. Daniil Medvedev
The 23-year-old Russian, coming off back-to-back defeats in the finals at Washington and Toronto, won the Western and Southern Open to become the 21st member of the Masters 1000 Club.
The Muscovite who resides in Monte Carlo, defeated the feisty Belgian David Goffin 7-6(3) 6-4 and admitted he was exhausted following his full-on post Wimbledon run which has seen him take his tally of match wins this season to 43 on all surfaces, the most of any player this year, leading Rafa Nadal by two and Roger Federer by four.
“To finally lift a trophy is just an amazing feeling,” the ninth seed admitted. “I’m so exhausted, I almost can’t talk now. But the crowd gave me amazing energy.
“Three weeks in a row in the finals It would not be a good feeling if I lost three finals in a row. I’m just relieved and I’m so happy.”
Medvedev, who sealed his win appropriately with an ace, his 10th of the final, speaking to the media post-match, continued: “I’ve had so much support these three weeks [which] have been the best three weeks of my life. My mentality was the best, my serve was the best, my tennis has been really consistent.
“I didn’t have one bad match, I hope to continue this way for [the] next few weeks.”
He also revealed that he was starting to cramp in the final game, when he tossed his racket in frustration.
“I think my Montreal final against Rafa was important,” he said in explaining his resilience. “I was maybe able to use that experience that I had, and David did not.”
The result has lifted him into being a strong contender for the US Open which starts at Flushing Meadows next week and gives credence to Novak Djokovic’s comment following the Serb’s loss to the Russian in the semi-finals the day before, when he declared: “He [Medvedev] deserves to be in the mix, certainly, with all his results. He’s working his way to top five. He’s definitely one of the best players in the world at this moment.”
The victory has in fact, lifted him to five in the world rankings, which Medvedev was aware of. “I don’t check the rankings every two minutes, but I do look after I do well at a tournament,” he said. “If I had lost I’d be seventh, now I’m fifth.”
Meanwhile sixteenh seeded Goffin, playing his first Masters final, but his second of the season having lost to Roger Federer in Halle, complemented the victor. “Congratulations to your team,” he told Medvedev, “Once again, an unbelievable week for you, fantastic. I think you are ready for New York.”
Medvedev powered to a 4-1 lead in the opening set only to be pulled back by the Belgian who forced him into a tie-breaker which he dominated for the loss of just three points.
Crucially Medvedev broke in the opening game of the second set which was all he needed to go on and avenge his loss to Goffin at Wimbledon this year, but had to stave off cramp in the last game when he tossed his racket in frustration fearing he wouldn’t be able to close out the match in straight sets, before recovering to save break points.
“I started feel cramps at 5-3. First time in three weeks I started cramping — probably the nerves and rallies,” Medvedev said. “Yesterday, my coach told me it has been 24 days in a row where I played tennis.
“I started cramping quite hard. Last game, it is 15-40 and I am cramping, and it is going to be 5-all and I’m in a bad position. I made four serves he couldn’t return and three of them were aces, just unbelievable.”
In the final analysis Medvedev struck 21 winners and with 14 unforced errors while Goffin virtually matched him with 20 winners, only to negate any advantage with 28 unforced errors, seven of which were double-faults.
The Belgian explained the problems players now face against Medvedev. “He’s super solid. He doesn’t miss. It’s like playing against a wall,” Goffin said. “Just playing cross, cross, wait for the ball. His pace is not too fast, not too slow. It’s quite a special pace to play against him. And then you receive bombs coming from his serve, and then he doesn’t miss.
“That’s why everybody is struggling, because he’s so consistent, now with more confidence.”
Medvedev is certainly adding to the ‘mix’.