Playing in the style of Medvedev himself. How dangerous is last year’s Miami champion for Daniil?
Hubert Hurkac is the last obstacle on the way of the Russian to the first place in the ranking. Daniil Medvedev, the only Russian in both men’s and women’s singles, made it to the quarterfinals of the Miami Masters. It’s a repeat of his best result at this tournament, which he achieved for the first time last year. This time, in the 4th round, Daniel defeated American Jenson Brooksby in two sets, 7-5, 6-1. The Russian was trailing 3-5 in the first set, but won 10 out of 11 games in the second set.
Reaching the quarter-finals means that Daniil is one step away from returning to the first place in the ATP ranking. The problem is that the Russian is 55 points behind Djokovic at the end of the Indian Wells Masters, 8,410, compared to 8,465 for the Serb. At the Masters in Miami, Medvedev has already repeated the 180 points he scored last year. And his total will not go down. But Novak will lose 45 points at Miami 2019. So Daniel’s lead is now down to 10 points. All he needs now is one more victory in Miami-2022 to get back to No.1 at the end of the tournament.
The last barrier on the way of the Russian to the first place in the ATP rankings was Hubert Hurkac with whom Daniil will fight for a trip to the 1/ 2 finals. The 25-year-old Pole, born the same day as Medvedev but a year later, is seeded No. 8 in Miami. Curiously, his rise began a year ago when he became the Miami 2021 champion. In the current draw, Hurkac made a successful start to his title defense, defeating such difficult opponents as Frenchman Artur Rinderknes, Russian Aslan Karatsev (29) and Lloyd George Harris of South Africa.
“Hurkacz plays quite sharp. I wouldn’t say the Pole has any outright weaknesses. A tennis player who is so high in the world rankings has a pretty powerful level of play. In addition, Hurkac has a very strong serve – it was seen in the match against Karatsev, where he made more than 20 sets,” – said his opinion in an interview with “Champions”, Andrey Olkhovsky, two-time winner of Grand Slam tournaments in the mixtape.
Previously, the rivals have already met three times, and all the duels took place in 2021. Their first encounter, in the 4th round of Wimbledon, turned out to be a disaster for Daniil. The match was held on an outdoor court without a roof. Because of the rain it was not possible to finish it in one day. Medvedev was leading 2-1 in sets by halftime. But the rest of the day it was over in Hubert’s favor – the Russian conceded the 4th game and then the 5th game and lost his chance to become the world No.1 at the end of Wimbledon. The next two games – in the quarter-finals of the Toronto Masters and in the group stage of the ATP Championships in Turin – were for Daniil. True, both times he had to come back from 0-1 in sets.
Most experts agree that a quarter-final match against Hurkacz will not be easy for Medvedev. What makes the Miami champion so dangerous? “Hurkac is an uncomfortable opponent for Medvedev, because the Pole serves well and holds the ball on the back line. He’s fast enough in terms of speed. Hurkac is playing Medvedev’s style. The game will be persistent. But Dani has a slight advantage. He’s statistically a better player than Hurkac. There are more variations on the back line,” said WTR President Shamil Tarpischev.
Boris Sobkin, the Merited Coach of Russia, believes Medvedev’s fight for first place in the rankings could play a key role in his match against Hurkacz: “Returning to the top line could be an additional motivation for Medvedev, as well as an additional clincher. Daniil understands that he can get back on top, but it can get in the way. When you really want to come back, it can be a drag.”
Vladimir Kamelzon, our other famous coach, believes that this quarterfinal will be more important for Daniil than all the remaining duels: “Dania is a reasonable player, he understands everything. If he gets back on top, no one will think twice. This meeting is even more important than the semi-finals and finals. The task for the tournament will already be done, and then he’ll let go and play more creatively the way he knows how. Medvedev is a unique personality!