Daniil Medvedev would have liked another ending to this almost perfect fortnight. In his bubble since the start of the tournament, where he has appeared with sometimes disconcerting ease, the Russian fell arms in hand against Dominic Thiem after a semi-final whose scoreboard did not really reflect the quality of the match. Without being missed, Medvedev still played too uneven a score to claim better. Reaching the final without losing a set, the Muscovite left the tournament after a match where he failed to finish once, which is a funny wink. Medvedev was good, but he wasn’t the best.
A valiant finalist a year ago against Rafael Nadal, the 5th player in the world had a wonderful opportunity to try his luck again in the absence of the Mallorcan title holder, Roger Federer, then Novak Djokovic, disqualified in the round of 16. If the scenario of the match can leave him regrets, the protégé of Gilles Cervara was lucid after the fact. Thiem was just superior for three hours.
“What could I have done differently in this semi-final? Probably not much more“, observed the Russian when debriefing his second half in Grand Slam.”We can come back to certain points of this match, where my loss of concentration in the first set. But Dominic played very well. Tennis is above all about details. And it is played out on certain points. Sometimes you win them, sometimes you lose them. Today I lost the most important points. And it is by winning them that we win the matches. It was a very high level match and Dominic played too well.”
It was Leonardo “Di Medvedev” in the first set
Medvedev referred to his loss of focus. This one was worth it. The finalist of the 2019 edition offered a very “Hollywood” scene, where he played the main role. And it cost him dearly: he lost his common thread, and de facto the first set. While he had to save a break point at 2-3 in this first act, the Russian lost his nerves after French referee Damien Dumusois refused him a challenge on a first ball he judged outside.
Claiming to have raised his arm at the right time, Medvedev – who made a mistake by playing the return of his rival – then made a scene to claim his call for video. Passing to the other side of the net, sarcasm with the referee, then with Wayne McKewen, the supervisor, the Muscovite got lost by going on a field that has cost him too much in the past.
Regarding his heated exchange with the supervisor, Medvedev admitted that he got a little carried away. “Yes, I was obviously angry. There was no reason to go talk to him. But in tennis, there are things that surprise me. Take, for example, a disqualification. It’s up to him to show up and put it on. This is not a decision a referee has to make.”
Warned for having passed the net, the Russian did not understand why the referee had stuck this penalty on him. “What did I do ? Did I hurt someone? Did I say something rude? I did not do anything. I got a warning. I went to see the supervisor to intervene, to do something. Why are you sitting there?“, he added, before making a relentless observation.”It wasn’t worth getting upset about it.”
According to him, this episode was only an epiphenomenon. “I am always disappointed to lose. But it’s not like I lost this game for being too nervous or for losing my focus. I was there. We can talk about the first set. Dominic happened to be playing well. I lost my focus, I started to make some mistakes. So I was far from winning this first set“, observed Medvedev, always lucid to take stock of its services.”Let’s not talk about this first set. but let’s talk about the second, the third where I was there from start to finish. I was 100% from a mental point of view. I was focused, my game plan was working.”
Unable to conclude
Medvedev has indeed had the controls of the last two sets, where he went to seek the entry break each time. But in both cases, he was not able to hold out, nor to conclude. The loss of the second set probably cost him the game. The storyline of this one had it all from the “sleeve of all regrets”. First passed within two points of winning it (at 5-4, 0-30), unable to resume service from Thiem at 5-5 despite five break points (the game lasted ten minutes), and surprised by a foreign service on his backhand when he had a set point (at 5-6 in the decisive game), the man with the 7 titles on the ATP Tour has never been able to use his killer instinct, as he had faced Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals.
The third act rallied a little to his predecessor: Medvedev had two double break points at 4-1, then a set point at 5-3 (40-30) where his forehand let him go, as often during of this match. Far from being imperial in service, which is the basis of his game, the Russian had some rather confusing statistical figures. He made more hits than winners than Thiem (29-22) and his number of unforced errors condemned him to the night (44 against 33). We have not seen the best version of Medvedev: it was seen on the court, but also in the scoresheet.
“He managed to be better than me. On the set point in the third inning, I should have served better and made an ace. But it’s tennis, “analyzed the loser.”I knew I had to be more aggressive than usual. The conditions were also very very slow because it was cold. But overall, I just played less well and that’s why I lost in three sets. We could talk about it for hours. Maybe I should have played more crossover, and closer to the lines. But tennis is not just that.”
Medvedev is already looking ahead to the short season on earth
The rest, for Medvedev, is clay. A surface on which he still has to raise his level. Back in Europe on Sunday, he will train for a few days at his home in Monte-Carlo, before heading to Hamburg, then Paris. He will not play in Rome.
But the rapid arrival of Roland-Garros particularly motivates him. And the Russian did not lack humor to get the message across. “Last year my best results on earth were in my first tournaments. This year, I will only have two. So I hope I can have great results.”