When will we see Daniil Medvedev’s records again
This week will be Daniil Medvedev’s ninth week as the world’s number one ranked player
Until 2022, there were two players in the history of Russian tennis who managed to top the world ranking. The first was Evgeny Kafelnikov, who held the world number one title from early May to mid-June 1999 for a total of six weeks. Then between late November 2000 and April 2001 Marat Safin was the best player in the world for nine weeks, competing against Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten for the top spot.
A few seasons later, the era of the “Big Four” began. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray had not allowed anyone to cut into their company for more than 18 years. Only Medvedev managed to break their hegemony in February 2022. He was at the top for three weeks then, then returned to the top spot in June – and has held it for a total of nine weeks now. Next Monday he will overtake Safin to become the best Russian tennis player in history.
Golf with Schweinsteiger
Of course, the circumstances surrounding Wimbledon greatly contributed to his current position in the rankings. The organizers did not allow Russian and Belorussian players to play in the British Majors, and the ATP and WTA in response decided not to give ranking points to the participants in the oldest Grand Slam tournament. Novak Djokovic, the Wimbledon champion, lost 2,000 points as a result, dropping from third to seventh place in the list of the world’s leading tennis players.
We’ll never know what Medvedev might have accomplished on the All England Lawn Tennis Club courts. On the one hand he has never been further than the fourth round at Wimbledon. On the other hand, Daniel had a good grass season, playing the finals twice in three tournaments (in Hertogenbosch and Halle) and dropping out once in the quarterfinals (in Mallorca).
After that the Russian had to take a forced break. By the way, Medvedev responded to the Wimbledon organizers in a very subtle way. On the day of the final between Djokovic and Nick Kirios, he posted a post on social media, signing it “Perfect Sunday.” According to Daniil, it looks like this: He is sitting at home in front of a big TV with a sports broadcast on. But not tennis at all, but the Austrian Grand Prix of Formula 1. The irony was appreciated by many fans.
By the way, even earlier it was clear from Medvedev’s publications that he had stayed on Majorca for some time after the Spanish tournament. In the photos, he was spending time in the company of the famous former soccer player Bastian Schweinsteiger. This is known not only for his performances for Bayern (Daniel’s favorite club), but also as the husband of former world number one Ana Ivanovic. Medvedev and Schweinsteiger went for a walk together on Mallorca and played golf. After that, the Russian continued to vacation in France, where he has been living for the past few years.
65 percent success
Although now, of course, Daniel is already preparing for his return to the court. It is scheduled for the beginning of August. In these weeks the European clay season is coming to an end – he competed in Bostad, a big tournament in Hamburg and the no less famous Gstaad will be held this week, and starts in Kitzbühel and Umag are ahead as well.
But Medvedev ignored all those opportunities to play in Europe before the North American tournament series. And he did the right thing. He is known that the clay is his least favorite surface, which means there is little chance to win anything here. All the more so because almost all over Europe right now there is a grueling heat, in some places well over +30. That makes any match much more energy-consuming.
So why waste energy and then take a transatlantic flight from Europe to America? Medvedev chose a different strategy. He is purposefully preparing for the overseas tournaments and will begin playing them in a pullout in the Mexican resort town of Cabo San Lucas on August 1. Felix Auger-Allassim, Cameron Norrie, Diego Schwartzman and John Isner will also contend for the title there.
And then it gets serious. Next weeks on the calendar are the Masters in Montreal, where Medvedev is the reigning champion, and the Masters in Cincinnati, where the Russian won in 2019 and reached the semifinals a year ago. Then a week break and another title defense at the US Open.
As we can see, Daniil will need a lot of energy. As my colleagues have already calculated, for the rest of the season Medvedev will have to defend 65 percent of his total ranking points. That’s a lot, although we’ve seen more than once that he plays magnificently at major tournaments in North America. Nevertheless, in August and September we need to play with maximum effort to keep the “number one post.”
Daniel’s closest rival at the moment is Sasha Zverev – but the German representative, who needs to defend just over half the points, is still recovering from a serious injury. And it is not yet clear in what form he will approach the U.S. Open. The prospects of Djokovic, who refuses to be vaccinated against covid and risks missing the starts over the ocean completely, are also unclear.