The Moment That Made A Difference for Daniil Medvedev

Medvedev’s talent for changing course in the blink of an eye goes far beyond the practice court. Three years ago, he was a talented but callow 21-year-old. He was ranked outside the ATP top 50, uncertain he wanted to put in the work it takes to perform at the elite level.

First, Medvedev lost in the first round of the 2018 US Open. Sometime later, he faced Nadal in the finals becoming the first player under 23 years old to reach the finals since Novak Djokovic did in 2010. All these significant events had a catalyst. For Medvedev, it all began in January of 2018 when he hired Gilles Cervara as his full-time coach. Both crossed paths when the player left his home country of Russia in search of better quality coaches. He ended up settling down in Southern France where his sister lived.

Once there, he first worked with different people until he and Cervara had a mutual agreement late in 2017. What concerned Cervara the most was that Medvedev had a history of giving in to his frustration and anger. As a junior player, he often yelled at coaches and other people on the sidelines. At Wimbledon 2017, he threw coins at the umpire’s chair after he lost in the second round.

‘I actually have no idea why all the demons go out when I play tennis, and especially when I was a junior’, Medvedev said in a postmatch interview after beating Grigor Dimitrov. ‘I had a lot of problems with my attitude’.

In their very first attempt at helping control Medvedev’s emotions, the two got into a small disagreement. When he participated in his first tournament of 2018, he lost in the opening round of a Challenger event. ‘The match was very bad’, Cervara said. ‘We fought together during the game. I was mad. I was trying to help him, but mad at his behaviour. After he lost, we had a talk, and at that moment we started to build something else. His tennis identity started to grow up at that point’.

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In his quest for glory, Medvedev will look to win his Grand Slam against Rafael Nadal, a player with 18 Grand Slams to his name. They only previously met once at the Canada Masters, just a few weeks ago. There, Nadal beat Medvedev 6-3, 6-0. Speaking about their recent match, Medvedev said that it was an uphill battle.

‘It was a tough one’, Medvedev admitted. ‘Rafa’s energy was much higher than mine. I had one breakpoint, then he got a break, then he was only going harder, harder, faster, stronger — and I was only going down’.

Nevertheless, he said that he was happy to have experienced battling Nadal and seeing his ‘unorthodox’ playstyle for himself. It served as a learning point for him, showing him just what he should expect in their upcoming match.

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