‘Stubborn’ Daniil Medvedev reveals tactical change he should have made against Novak Djokovic

Daniil Medvedev US Open final 2023

Daniil Medvedev has admitted he was “too stubborn” during his 2023 US Open final defeat to Novak Djokovic and should have made a tactical adjustment.

The world No 3 feels he made a mistake by not moving from his deep return position to stand closer to the baseline earlier in the match.

Djokovic downed Medvedev 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 on Arthur Ashe Stadium in Sunday’s US Open final in a rematch of the 2021 title match – when the Russian prevailed in straight sets.

The 24-time major winner utilised serve-and-volley to great effect in the match to exploit Medvedev’s deep return stance. The tactic was overwhelmingly successful when Djokovic used the slice serve out wide to Medvedev’s forehand, with the 27-year-old unable to find any answers on the deuce side.

It is a strategy Djokovic also used against Medvedev in winning the pair’s 2021 Paris Masters final clash. Carlos Alcaraz also frequently came to the net in his dominant wins against Medvedev at Indian Wells and Wimbledon this year. The Russian did, though, beat the Spaniard in four sets in the semi-finals in New York last week.

Following the final, Medvedev recognised that his decision to stick with his favoured return position had hurt him – particularly in the crucial second set.

“Was a little bit stubborn on return. I probably should have changed my position and stuff like this, but I had the feeling that it’s gonna work like this and I’m going to make it work because I was a little bit returning worse than let’s say with Carlos,” reflected the 27-year-old.

“When the [second] set was over, I was like, ‘Yeah, I was too stubborn, I should have done differently.’ But, you know, again, that’s how tennis is. Backhand the same, backhand not cross but down the line, the set is over. Sometimes it’s tough.”

The 2021 US Open winner further analysed his return strategy when asked about his struggles to counter Djokovic’s serve-and-volley.

“True. That’s what I was saying that I probably should have been less stubborn and change my position, because I tried to change in my mind what I was doing on return, like either going a little bit high or low or line, cross,” explained Medvedev.

“I just didn’t manage to put the ball in the court many times or to put the ball where I wanted to. So that was different that with Carlos [Alcaraz], I managed to be good returning from far, and that’s what I’m good at.

“I don’t really care too much if the guy is serving and volleying. It makes it a little bit tougher but he has to do it good. Novak first of all does it good, so that’s the first part. And then the second part is that I didn’t manage to return well enough, and I don’t want to say because of him.

“It was more of myself and I should have been less stubborn and go forward earlier in the match, because I only started doing it a little bit in the third set. But the match was a different story.”

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