Unbeaten in 15 matches, Medvedev a title threat

  • Alex Sharp

Fifteen wins in a row in any sport is an impressive tally.

Daniil Medvedev isn’t just amassing victories, he’s posting statement wins over his closest rivals.

Players are frequently intimidated or hindered by the prospect of facing the greats, their biggest roadblocks to major honours.

Not Medvedev. The Russian’s run of 15 includes 10 wins over top-10 opponents, and he’s far from finished yet.

“Yeah, it's nice. I actually don't know about all the tennis records. I know that Novak (Djokovic) and Rafa (Nadal), Roger (Federer) probably have about 40, Andy Murray had a lot,” said the Australian Open fourth seed.

“So I'm actually wondering, are there a lot of players who are able to do it? Especially it was a strong tournament. Bercy, London and ATP Cup, not an easy tournament, so it's great. Hopefully I can get as many matches as possible going.”

The Russian is in the right ball park – world No.1 Djokovic managed a staggering 43 successive wins in 2010-2011, Roger Federer just behind on 41 in 2006-07, Rafael Nadal 32 in 2008, Andy Murray 25 in 2016-17.

Medvedev might be far from closing in on those ‘Big Four’ numbers, but his winning streak has been built on some elite stages. 

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At the Paris Masters last November, Alex de Minaur, Diego Schwartzman, Milos Roanic and Alexander Zverev were left bamboozled by the Russian’s unorthodox style.

Then in London at the ATP Finals, Medvedev truly sent out a signal of intent for 2021. He was almost flawless in dismantling Djokovic in the round robin and triumphing in a pulsating semifinal to send Nadal home before capping his campaign in the silverware showdown with Dominic Thiem, winning a modern-day classic 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4 .

It meant Medvedev was the first player in ATP Finals history to defeat all the Top three in the same edition. 

The 24-year-old has continued to cause a stir in 2021, combining with fellow Russian Andrey Rublev with devastating effect to soar to ATP Cup glory.

Having hit the ground running at Australian Open 2021, Medvedev appears at ease to be put in the conversation of contenders this fortnight. 

“I just try to win matches. If people consider me as a favourite, it's actually a good job because I worked all my life to be one of the, let's say, top players in the world, so I'm happy that I'm part of them right now,” explained the fourth seed, before some quick calculations: “But you need to win seven matches. I just won one, so I need to win six more against very strong opponents, how many sets is it? That's 18 sets more you need to win, which is a lot. It's like nine three-set matches, so I'll take it step by step.”

Medvedev is riding the longest tour-level winning streak of his career, surpassing the 12 consecutive match wins he compiled through winning the Cincinnati Masters until his thrilling US Open five-set final defeat to Nadal in 2019.

Just like at Flushing Meadows two years ago, the world No.4 seems set for a productive fortnight.

The composed start on Tuesday dismissed any concerns Medvedev would be burnt out from his ATP Cup exploits at the weekend.

World No.61 Vasek Pospisil looked a pretty troublesome opener on paper, but Medvedev was clinical in a 6-2 6-2 6-4 defeat of the resurgent Canadian.

Next up, world No.99 Roberto Carballes Baena will try and crack the momentum of Medvedev, who is not yet satisfied with his current level. 

“It's always a bit tough to talk about it in the beginning of the season, it's also a strange situation we're at right now. For two weeks, even if I was really lucky to not be in hard quarantine, still, you cannot do everything you want to prepare let's say 100 percent for the tournament. So it's all destabilising,” claimed the 24-year-old.

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“First two matches (ATP Cup) I think I could have done something better. So it goes from match to match. Every match is different because the situation is different. But I'm feeling confident. Winning almost everything in straight sets is important, so I'm feeling confident about myself.”

In 2019, Djokovic halted his progress at Melbourne Park in the fourth round. Last year, 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka stopped him in his tracks at the same stage.

It’s most likely a player of that calibre will be required to interrupt this Russian on a roll.