Why Daniil Medvedev may never solve clay court demons after Madrid Open exit

Daniil Medvedev

Daniil Medvedev went down to s shock defeat against compatriot Aslan Karatsev and not for the first time, he went out with all guns blazing. 

Second seed Medvedev complained about the lack of space behind the baseline on the Arantxa Sanchez Stadium during a 7-6 (1) 6-4 loss to qualifier Karatsev, who plummeted down the rankings last year after his remarkable 2021 breakthrough, where he reached the Australian Open semi-finals.

That success took Karatsev into the top 20 of the ATP rankings, but he has slipped down since then and was delighted so to show some of his best form to see off Medvedev.

“I’m feeling great, playing well,” said Karatsev, who came through qualifying to play in the main draw in Madrid.

“I just have to focus every match, so I will be prepared for the next one… [Against top players] you just concentrate more, you have to be 100 per cent, you have to focus more because they do not give you any free points.

“You have to be consistent and mentally tough, so I think I’m doing well

“I was struggling last year I’m really happy with my game now, so well see what the next round can bring.”

It is hard to know how to rate Medvedev’s chances on clay courts with the French Open now just around the corner.

So many of his biggest weapons are neutralised on the red dirt, with his booming ground shots lacking punch when they are absorbed by the clay.

That is clearly a point of frustration for one of the form players of 2023, who admits he struggles to find solutions during this part of the year.

“My biggest expectation is to try to play well, getting the feeling of taking control of the game and putting my opponent in trouble,” said said.

“Even on clay when I play well, I feel capable of beating great guys, playing good tennis and going far in tournaments, like in Monte-Carlo this year.

“It’s time to fix some small things, make small adjustments and try to play better. Because of the altitude, maybe I can play better in Madrid than in other clay court tournaments.

“Every year is a new opportunity, this year is another one and I’m going to try to just play my best.”

Medvedev may already be looking forward to the start of the grass court season, as he will be permitted to play in the UK events this year after the ban on Russian players was lifted.

With his struggles on clay are unlikely to end any time soon, his ambitions at the French Open may only extend to an appearance in the second week of the tournament.

Yet don’t assess the form of Medvedev over this period of the season.

He will be a threat when the grass courts are unveiled next month and then in the US hard court season, where he will be a leading contender to win all the big titles.

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