The Russian is the hottest player in the game right now, but clay has a way of slowing him down. By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday April 10, 2023
Daniil Medvedev enters the clay-court season as the hottest player on the ATP Tour. The Russian has won 24 of his last 25 matches, and reached the final of the last five events he has played, winning four.
Now comes the ultimate challenge: keeping it rolling on the red clay.
One look at Medvedev’s career winning percentage on the red stuff tells us that it is not going to be an easy challenge. Medvedev has won matches at a 43.9 percent clip (18-23) over the course of his career, which compares mega unfavorably to his hard court winning percentage of 75.2 percent (245-81).
Speaking on Sunday ahead of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Medvedev opened up about the dilemma he faces. The 27-year-old has to change his game, and that’s not an ideal situation for a player who has been close to perfect with what he has on the hard courts.
What are we talking about…..🤣😝 pic.twitter.com/kcwXQ74FhI
— Daniil Medvedev (@DaniilMedwed) April 9, 2023
“I definitely have to change a little bit because my strokes are too flat and clay doesn’t let it go through the court enough and often opponents can use it,” he told reporters.
Medvedev seeks to find the balance that will let him still play in his comfort zone while being effective on clay. He has found it at times over the course of his career, as is evidenced by his trip to the quarterfinals at Roland-Garros in 2021. There was also 2019 when he earned wins over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic in succession to reach the semifinals at Monte-Carlo, the same year he reached the final at Barcelona.
Strangely, Medvedev is actually 3-3 lifetime against the Top 20 on clay, but just 9-16 when the lens pans out to look at his body of work against the Top 50 on the red dirt.
Perhaps this year will be different, now that Medvedev has changed his strings and gained a ton of confidence over the last two months.
Medvedev just needs to keep that confidence in his head, but it has proven elusive on the surface. Mentally he seems to expect the worst on the clay, never a recipe for racking up wins.
“You cannot change what you do nine months a year, drastically,” Medvedev said. “So I have to find a good balance where I still play my game with a little kick to it…like changing just maybe some shots in the right moment. And that’s how I can be good and that’s how I was able to be good in the good moments.”
That said, Medvedev has made peace with his plight. He says the sport is better off having a clay season, even if he is one of the players that perpetually struggles.
“I understand that it cannot be 12 months of hard courts,” he said. “And I think it’s good to have these different surfaces. That’s good for the sport. But me, I prefer hard courts, I’m not going to lie.”