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Five reasons why Daniil Medvedev is ready to win his first AO

  • Matt Trollope

A resurgent 2023 season has put Daniil Medvedev firmly in the conversation when it comes to title favourites at Australian Open 2024.

This is a tournament he came within a whisker of winning two years earlier, played on a surface he loves.

TICKETS: See Daniil Medvedev compete at AO 2024

After reaching the US Open final, Medvedev went on to end 2023 with 66 match wins – more than any other player on tour.

We analyse why he can go all the way at Melbourne Park in January.

He’s come extremely close before

Medvedev has already reached two Australian Open finals, proof he loves the conditions.

While Novak Djokovic outplayed him in the 2021 decider, he came tantalisingly close to the trophy in 2022 before Rafael Nadal staged the most extraordinary of comebacks.

That 2022 defeat had a profound impact on Medvedev, who struggled to recapture that level for the rest of the year. He even exited the top 10 after an early loss at AO 2023.

But according to Todd Woodbridge, this was a process of catharsis he needed to go through in order to rebound.

READ MORE: Resurgent Medvedev banishing demons

"I do think that clearing out the last piece of baggage that came with that Australian Open (2022) final, that scar tissue we talk about, has now delivered a clean slate,” Woodbridge observed.

"I think with him, you could call it the cleansing; it's given him freedom again.

“Whatever his personal goals are, they look achievable again… He seems to think again that there is that space (to achieve them).”

He’s rediscovering his best at the majors

Medvedev certainly appeared reborn. He won his next 19 matches, scooped three consecutive titles, came within one match of completing the Sunshine Double, and later won his first ATP Masters 1000 title on clay in Rome.

In just over three months, he’d won 34 of 37 matches and vaulted from world No.11 to No.2.

This form spike carried over into the Grand Slam sphere.

After reaching the AO 2022 final, it took Medvedev 18 months to get past the fourth round at another major. Yet he turned a corner at Wimbledon In 2023, advancing to the semifinals – by far his best result at the All England Club.

He then reached the US Open decider, his third final there in five years.

Should this trend continue, the next step in the sequence would, logically, be a title at the Australian Open.

While progression in tennis rarely unfolds this neatly, what Medvedev has done in the past six months is restore his reputation as a Grand Slam force.

MORE: Australian Open set for historic Sunday 14 January start

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The 27-year-old has now appeared in five major finals – winning the 2021 US Open – plus another two semifinals and one quarterfinal. That’s eight trips to the business end of majors.

When AO 2024 begins on 14 January, few know better how to manage themselves through a Grand Slam campaign.

He’s beaten all his top rivals

Throughout 2023, Medvedev defeated every other player currently ranked in the top eight – all players who qualified alongside him at the season-ending ATP Finals.

Not only that, but the context surrounding several of those wins made them more significant.

He beat Djokovic in straight sets on a hard court in Dubai, when Djokovic at that point had built a flawless 15-0 record to begin the season.

He beat Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open semifinals, when Alcaraz was the defending champion, the reigning Wimbledon champion, and had easily beaten Medvedev in their two previous matches.

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He beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and Holger Rune – both in straight sets, on their best surface of clay – back-to-back in Rome.

Knowing he has scored meaningful wins over his biggest threats for the AO title in the past 12 months will be a confidence boost entering 2024.  

He’s more motivated than ever

During his time in Abu Dhabi participating in the recent World Tennis League exhibition event, Medvedev indicated his desire to succeed is anything but dimmed.

“At this stage of my life, at least right now, and I hope this can last for a long time, I have just the biggest motivation to just continue finding my limits,” he told The National.

“Try to be even more professional, try to fight harder, try to be better on the court.

“Because I think that actually at the end of the (2023) season, I was a little bit too much all over the place, because I was mentally tired.

“So I’m going to try to do all of this better next year and hopefully I can become a better player, better person, better results, and stuff like this.”

The late season fatigue was understandable, given he played 84 matches – more than any other player in the ATP top 10.

However, he will have banked plenty of confidence from winning 66 of them, and with some time off, that confidence will be paired with a refreshed body and mind.

He’s a hard-court specialist

Of those 66 wins in 2023, 49 came on hard courts. Four of his five 2023 titles came on the same surface.

We say “hard-court specialist” somewhat facetiously, a nod to this iconic exchange with a chair umpire at Indian Wells earlier in 2023.

But it’s also true.

Medvedev achieved a slew of hard-court milestones throughout the season that saw him join some greats of the game.

He has a combined 50-13 win-loss record at the Australian and US Opens, and all five of his major finals – three in New York, two in Melbourne – have come on hard courts.

He’ll step onto a surface he loves in just over two weeks at Melbourne Park, with his eyes on the ultimate prize.