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Resurgent Medvedev banishing demons

  • Matt Trollope

Since bowing out in the third round at Australian Open 2023, Daniil Medvedev has not lost a match.

His sudden form spike has been one of the stories of the season, with the 27-year-old barely losing sets in scooping three tournament consecutive titles in February.

Medvedev has continued winning at Indian Wells, improving his unbeaten streak to 17 matches by progressing to the quarterfinals – his best result in the Californian desert.

This purple patch contrasts sharply with his form and fortunes in 2022. 

His loss to Rafael Nadal in the AO final – from two sets to love up – was the first of nine consecutive losses to top-10 opponents. He went six months before winning another title. 

Ahead of the 2022 US Open, where Medvedev was the defending champion, Todd Woodbridge discussed his lukewarm results to that point.

"I think how his year has played out has a lot to do with the Australian Open final loss. To lose a match from that position leaves scar tissue,” Woodbridge observed. “I think he's had to unravel that mentally.”

This topic resurfaced recently on The Tennis Podcast, where host Catherine Whitaker suggested Medvedev needed to get his Melbourne Park return “out of the way” to truly move on.

“I think he needed to face down those demons from last year, and just sort of live through that in order to reset,” she said. “I really do think the Australian Open final last year knocked him off-kilter in pretty dramatic ways.”

Daniil Medvedev won three titles in three consecutive weeks, first in Rotterdam (left) then in Doha (centre) and Dubai (right). [Getty Images]

Since his third-round loss to Sebastian Korda at AO 2023, Medvedev completely flipped his record against top-10 players, going 4-0 without conceding a set.

After winning indoors in Rotterdam in the European winter, he maintained his success in the outdoor heat of the Middle East, claiming the Doha and Dubai titles. 

He did not drop a set in Dubai; the closest any opponent pushed him was a 6-4 scoreline.

He handed Novak Djokovic his first loss of the season in the Dubai semifinals, snapping the reigning AO champion’s 20-match winning streak.

Medvedev has now won 34 of his past 38 sets.

After beating Alexander Zverev to reach the Indian Wells quarters, he will look to take another step further – and improve his unbeaten run to 18 matches – when he plays Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.



Streak began

Streak ended


1R Paris Masters 2020 (d. Anderson)

F Australian Open 2021 (lt. Djokovic)


1R Rotterdam 2023 (d. Davidovich Fokina)



1R Cincinnati 2019 (d. Edmund)

F US Open 2019 (lt. Nadal)


1R US Open 2021 (d. Gasquet)

3R Indian Wells 2021 (lt. Dimitrov)

*active streak

Woodbridge agrees with the re-set theory.

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

"I think with him, you could call it the cleansing; it's given him freedom again. When you're free and relaxed, your ball striking is better, it comes out of the middle, there is no tension in your arm or your body.

“If he's got a little bit of tension, it's not going to be as easy for him. That's all gone, and he's (going) after the ball freely. And that comes with a very clear head.

“Whatever his personal goals are, they look achievable again. And that's really important for an athlete. When you set them, you might think: 'I can't make that. I'm close, but it's not there. I'm just underneath where I need to be’.

“He seems to think again that there is that space (to achieve them).”

New strings, new mindset

Medvedev’s suddenly potent ball-striking may also be explained by his switch to a different type of string.

He continues to compete with the same racquet frame and string tension, but revealed he had opted for a softer version of the Tecnifibre strings he previously used.

“When you play good, you are really scared to change something. Like when you win Grand Slams, I was No.1 in the world, you are like: why would I change?” Medvedev said at Indian Wells.

“Then, I played not that good at the end of the (2022) season, so I was like: why not in pre-season try to change? Tecnifibre proposed me this new version of strings, so I tried like six different ones in one day, and I really liked them. So I was like, OK, let’s try.

“Then Australian Open was not perfect; for sure a lot of doubts, did I make the right choice?

“But I felt like that (it was) something that could help me… I gained power without losing too much control, or without losing it at all, so I was like, OK I will try to continue with these strings.

He added, smiling: “Last three weeks it was working well, so probably I’m going to play with it for a long time.” 

Medvedev was ranked No.1 in early September 2022. Yet just over four months later he had plummeted outside the top 10 to No.12, and arrived in Rotterdam ranked 11th.

Long-time coach Gilles Cervara discussed Medvedev’s complete lack of confidence at this point, and how he had fallen into a characteristic pattern of searching for any and all reasons as to why he was not playing well. 

But something flipped on the eve of that tournament.

“As I often say about Daniil, when he’s grumbling and looking for excuses, he’s mostly looking for a way to get there,” Cervara told Tennis Majors.

“I remember a training session with Felix Auger-Aliassime two days before (Rotterdam)… He’s looking for all the reasons why he can’t win. 

“I’m deliberately not answering. I know he’s challenging me. My sensations go up so that I can give him, at the right moment, levers on which he can hang on. Because I know him, I feel that it’s getting inside him. I know that he will end up doing something with it. He has this amazing ability. 

“Once it’s in, once it’s on, everything that happens behind it, all the victories, it’s just him. 

“Right now it’s a meteorite, it’s catching fire and it’s continuing its trajectory by being ignited. The question becomes: how long will it last?”

‘Go again, achieve more’

Medvedev has since risen to world No.6, and is projected to re-enter the top five with his run at Indian Wells. 

His career high-point remains stunning Djokovic to win his first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2021. A few months after that, he became world No.1. 

And by beating Djokovic in Dubai – ending a four-match losing streak to the legendary Serb – during this current purple patch, Woodbridge believed it was another sign Medvedev was returning to that peak level.

Daniil Medvedev celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic at the US Open
Daniil Medvedev (R) was the US Open 2021 champion after beating Novak Djokovic (L) in that final. [Getty Images]

"You sense and see by the results, the body language, the talk from Medvedev, he's in the head space again where ‘I'm going to win again’. He has done exceptionally well to get rid of that scar tissue,” Woodbridge said.

"I'm really pleased that his objective is to go again, and to achieve more. Because I think there are some athletes that maybe think they might have hit their ceiling at those points (of great success). The perfect example is Dominic Thiem; he hit that (ceiling by winning the US Open in 2020) and is just not even close to getting back to anything that resembled the player he was for four years.

MEDVEDEV: "We can only change our present and future"

"I think it's exciting for tennis, because I think Medvedev is going to be a contender to win more majors again. And that's great for the game, because he brings personality.

"It would be lovely to know what his (next) goal ideally was. But for me, Wimbledon is where I see him focusing right now. I think this season is about doing something (notable) where he hasn't gone deep,” said Woodbridge of the grass-court major, where Russian and Belarusian players hope to compete in 2023 following last year’s ban.

“(Grass should suit) his game style; maybe there's an adjustment to be made to his positioning. 

“I think that's quite exciting for him. And I think the situation for Daniil is about keeping it interesting, keeping it motivating, and having these things to be targeting.”