Medvedev Recalls ‘Junior Legends’ Kyrgios vs. Zverev Clash Ahead Of Wimbledon Bid
Daniil Medvedev’s earliest memories of playing grass-court tennis feature some all-too-familiar faces.
“My first time on grass was when I played junior Wimbledon [in 2013],” Medvedev told ATPTour.com last week. “There was a tournament beforehand in Roehampton, where they also play qualies for Wimbledon. I actually lost to Nick Kyrgios [in the second round], and he won the tournament against Sascha [Alexander] Zverev in the final.
“They were really amazing at their age. I was nowhere close because they were very young when they went on the professional Tour, into the Top 100 and started playing the best in the world. I remember them playing the final. I think I actually even watched it, and it was just like watching two legends, two junior legends, play.”
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Medvedev may have taken a little longer to join Kyrgios and Zverev among the ATP Tour’s elite, but he now owns more tour-level trophies than both his former junior rivals. The 20th and most recent of his titles, which moved him clear of 19-time champion Zverev, came at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in May. It was Medvedev’s first ATP Tour crown on clay, heralded by many as a breakthrough for a player who has never been shy about his heavy preference for hard courts.
Given he now owns tour-level titles on hard (18 of his 20 triumphs have come on the surface), grass (Mallorca, 2021) and clay (this year’s Rome win), is the World No. 3 any closer to considering himself an ‘all-court’ player?
“I still believe the most in myself on hard courts because that’s still where my biggest titles are,” said Medvedev. “One Grand Slam, [five] Masters 1000s. I was never able to achieve kind of close on other surfaces, [but] I know that I can play well, finally, even on clay. Winning a Masters 1000 [in Rome] was unbelievable. There are some amazing clay-court players that never won a Masters, so it’s just unreal.
“I know that I can play well on grass. It’s just there’s something that I’m much more confident about myself on hard courts. But whenever I play, no matter the surface, I always try to win. I always try to be the best even if sometimes it doesn’t work. And that’s what I try every year on the clay and grass, even if I like hard courts more.”
Medvedev arrives at Wimbledon with an 8-4 record at the grass-court major. The 27-year-old enjoyed his best run at SW19 on his most recent appearance by reaching the fourth round in 2021. For someone that is used to competing for the biggest prizes in the game, that is something he is keen to improve.
“For the moment, Wimbledon is the Grand Slam where I have my worst result, [reaching the] fourth round,” said Medvedev. “Roland Garros is quarter-finals. So I for sure want to change it. I feel like I’m capable of playing well [at Wimbledon], but like always there are a lot of tough opponents that don’t want to let you do this.
“I want to show my best there. [It is] unbelievable to be there every time you come. You step on the grounds, and you know even when you come in the player lobby, straightaway you see grass all around, and perfectly cut. You just feel, ‘Well, here I am at Wimbledon and it’s a great feeling’, and I will be happy to experience it this year.”
Medvedev is not the only big name seeking a first deep run at the All England Club. World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz reached the fourth round in 2022 and lifted an ATP 500 trophy at The Queen’s Club last week in just his third tour-level event on grass. Promising signs for the Spaniard on a surface that Medvedev believes provides a complex challenge.
“I feel like grass is a really interesting surface, because many times I will be looking at someone playing and in my mind, I will be like, ‘This guy can play well on grass normally. Big serve, big forehand or something like this, knows how to slice’,” said Medvedev. “And for whatever reason he doesn’t like it and he [doesn’t do well on grass].
“Then there is going to be someone else [like Alcaraz], where you say in your mind that while his game is not really suited for grass — maybe he doesn’t go to the net that often and stuff like this — and then he plays so well on grass, and he says it himself that it is his best and favourite surface. That’s where it’s surprising.”
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Alcaraz and Medvedev’s maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting came at Wimbledon in 2021. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images.
It was Medvedev who ended Alcaraz’s maiden campaign on grass when he eased to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 second-round triumph against the then-18-year-old Spaniard at Wimbledon two years ago. Alcaraz has since lifted 11 tour-level titles, including a maiden major at the 2022 US Open, and risen to become the youngest No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
“In my opinion, the way Carlos plays on every surface, he can win maybe five Wimbledons, but you never know,” said Medvedev. “It’s a tough surface to play on. When we played [in 2021], he was not the same player, so I managed to get the best of this match. Last year I think he improved [on grass] already, played this four-setter against [Jannik] Sinner [in the fourth round]. I remember it was a great match.
“So I think his potential is really high on any surface, but grass is a tough surface for many players. Let’s see how he handles this task.”