Daniil Medvedev is typically the player who confounds opponents on the court. But after losing in straight sets against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Tuesday evening in the Roland Garros quarter-finals, the Russian admitted that the Greek — whom he called “a great player” — surprised him early on with his impressive play. The second seed was never able to fully recover.
“That’s why it went so easy on his side, because I didn’t expect such a great level from him,” Medvedev said. “I felt like I played good guys like [Alexander] Bublik, [Cristian] Garin, Tommy Paul actually, who played good from baseline. I felt that I was on top of them in the rallies, so I felt I could continue doing this today like on the hard courts.
“It was not the case so I had to change. I had to go more aggressive. I feel I’ve done a lot of good things today, but it was not enough to win, and that’s unfortunate.”
Medvedev arrived in Paris with an 0-4 record at the clay-court major, but he found his footing on the terre battue with victories against dangerous foes in Alexander Bublik, Tommy Paul, Reilly Opelka and Cristian Garin. In those matches, the World No. 2 dropped just one set. But against Tsitsipas, the Greek was simply better.
“Every time I don’t win a tournament, it’s kind of a disappointment,” Medvedev said. “I was feeling good straight away, so I was like, ‘I can do good results.’ But before coming here, if anybody would tell me I would be in [the] quarters losing to Tsitsipas in a tough match, I would sign. I will not lie, I would sign, especially being 0-4 in the first rounds before.”
Medvedev had two set points in the second set and led by a break in the third set, so the match was closer than the scoreline. The Russian just was unable to capitalise on his openings to put even more pressure on the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion.
“I think [it was a] great tournament, great fight today. I was fighting until the last point,” Medvedev said. “If we talk about the last point, that was tactically [what] I wanted to do [with] this serve, it was not that I wanted to leave the court or anything.”
The Russian was referencing match point, when he hit an underarm serve and rushed to the net. Tsitsipas replied by crushing a backhand to seal his victory after two hours and 19 minutes.
“I was thinking about it during the whole match, that maybe [on an] important point I could do it, because my opinion [is] that he was quite far back in the court, so that can always work,” Medvedev said. “But I didn’t see the opportunity before, and this one I felt that he was kind of on top of me, so I thought it’s going to be a good choice to bring him [a] surprise. I sometimes do it in practice. Usually guys are a bit surprised.
“It didn’t work out at all. He had an easy ball to finish. He made it. But again, as I said, it was tactical, and I won’t say it was a mistake. It was something that I dared to do and just maybe next time I won’t do it knowing that he’s ready.”
Besides losing an opportunity at reaching the semi-finals, the Russian also missed a chance to claim the No. 1 spot in the FedEx ATP Rankings this fortnight. If Medvedev won the title, or if he reached the final and Novak Djokovic failed to do so, the 25-year-old would have climbed to World No. 1 next Monday.
Now the Russian’s chances at making the top of tennis’ mountain during the grass season will depend on how Djokovic performs the rest of Roland Garros. For now, Medvedev leaves Paris knowing he gave all he had against Tsitsipas, and just fell short.
“I was fighting, I was adjusting my tactics after the first set where he was definitely much better than me,” Medvedev admitted. “He was up a break [in the second set], I tried to fight back, and I feel like he won a great tennis match.”