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In terms of the 2023 season on the ATP Tour, Daniil Medvedev has certainly been the man to beat. He may have started the season a little slower than he’d have liked, but since the Australian Open, the man has been prolific. As you might recall, he posted a rather remarkable win streak following the Aussie Open, winning three titles in a row before losing in the final of Indian Wells to Alcaraz. Naturally, this has helped him to climb back up the rankings up to where he currently sits – number 4 in the world.
Of course, Medvedev is also a Grand Slam champion, so he deserves to be ranked inside the top five, as his abilities and subsequent performances justify this position. But as incredible as his 2023 season has been so far, there is always the inevitable stumbling block for the mighty Russian. I am referencing the dreaded clay court swing here, as it’s a surface that Medvedev has confessed to hating in the past.
Not only does he hate the surface, but he struggles to replicate the performances that he puts in on hard courts, for reasons that some fans might not understand. On that note, my purpose in sharing this with you today is to highlight the reasons why Medvedev always struggles on the clay. So without further ado, let me discuss Medvedev’s clay court struggles and tell you why this is the case.
Medvedev’s Clay Court Woes Explained
If you compare Medvedev’s results on clay vs all other surfaces, it’s obvious that this is his least favourite surface – by quite some distance. Take Grand Slams as an example, he has made the finals in Australia twice, and he has won the US Open before. But at the French Open, he has lost in the first round four times, while his absolute best performance was in the quarter-final in 2021. This really does tell a story, but let me get specific right now.
The Style of His Groundstrokes
If you watch Medvedev play, you’ll notice that his groundstrokes are incredibly flat. While this might be highly effective on hard courts, especially those that play quickly, it doesn’t do much on clay. In fact, it doesn’t really do anything on clay, which is why guys who play with heavy topspin tend to do better in these events.
Movement on Clay Courts
There are two elements to being a good mover on clay, in my opinion. First, you have to have fantastic balance, and it helps to have a lower centre of gravity in this regard. That’s why somebody like Diego Schwartzman is a great mover on clay, despite his height. And secondly, you have to be able to slide into your shots. Medvedev tends to slide after he has hit the ball because he just doesn’t feel comfortable moving on the clay.
Serve Becomes Neutralized
Medvedev’s serve is pretty much his biggest weapon. When he is serving well, he is a very tough guy to beat. Once again, this is heightened on hard courts, as the ball skids through and helps him bag plenty of aces. But when it comes to clay court tennis, the surface slows the ball’s response down once it hits the court. This means he gets much fewer aces, and he gets involved in far more rallies than he does on other surfaces.
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