SF Preview: Alcaraz Seeks Wimbledon Revenge Against Medvedev
Medvedev breezed past a then-18-year-old Alcaraz for the loss of just seven games at SW19 in 2021, in the Spaniard’s first professional tournament on grass. Within 15 months of that heavy loss, Alcaraz had become the youngest No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings after his rapid development into one of the most exciting players on Tour.
“When he was 17, which was actually not long ago, he was much less mature and younger, which is normal,” said Medvedev on Wednesday when asked about his early memories of Alcaraz’s time on Tour. “He was missing [a lot of balls]. Everyone saw that he's amazing, but everyone was wondering if he was going to find the way to miss less while producing the same power. And he did, quite fast. That's what's pretty amazing.”
Medvedev would know a thing or two about not missing. The 27-year-old is renowned as one of the most consistent ballstrikers on Tour, with his ability to retrieve ball after ball from a deep position key to his own rise to World No. 1 in 2022. On Friday, his baseline wizardry, combined with his powerful serve, will be key for the third seed’s chances of reaching his fifth major championship match.
“He's really a complete player,” said Alcaraz of Medvedev on Thursday. “I'm going to say, like I think [Andrey] Rublev said a few times, he's an octopus. He catches every ball. It is amazing. He's an amazing athlete… He does almost everything well.”
After his 2021 Wimbledon defeat to Medvedev, Alcaraz had to wait until March this year to level the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series at 1-1. The Spaniard did so in style by dropping just five games in the BNP Paribas Open championship match in Indian Wells. Despite the one-sided nature of that encounter, Medvedev says the faster conditions on Wimbledon’s Centre Court will enable him to counter Alcaraz’s power more effectively.
“I think Indian Wells is not going to count a lot here. It was so slow in Indian Wells,” said the World No. 3. “It's not going to be the same. At Wimbledon, the ball bounces lower. The serve is more important. There, I felt like I couldn't get free points with the serve.”
Although their Indian Wells clash proved tough for Medvedev, he and Alcaraz have enjoyed similarly stellar seasons prior to forging out their personal-best Wimbledon showings this fortnight. Medvedev has now won a Tour-leading 46 matches on the year, with Alcaraz second on 45, while the pair also leads the field with five tour-level titles each in 2023. If either lifts the trophy at the All England Club, they would leapfrog Novak Djokovic to claim first place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.
Most Tour-level Wins In 2023
It is Alcaraz who has shone more brightly during the ongoing grass-court swing, however. The 20-year-old is 10-0 on the surface this year, a tally which includes his run to a maiden grass title at the ATP 500 at The Queen’s Club last month.
In contrast, Medvedev was 2-2 on grass heading into Wimbledon, but he dropped just one set in his opening four matches at SW19 before holding off an inspired Christopher Eubanks in five to reach his first Wimbledon semi-final. The 20-time tour-level titlist is relishing the prospect of testing his level against Alcaraz, who has dropped just two sets en route to the semi-finals himself.
“It's interesting to play someone like Carlos,” said Medvedev. “He is an amazing, amazing player. What he continues to do is just unbelievable. He doesn't stop. I don't think he will, but I’ve played a lot of great players in my career. I managed to win many times. So I'm going to try to do my best. If I show my best, I'll have my chances.”
With Djokovic also into the semi-finals, Alcaraz has the added motivation of playing to retain his No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The Spaniard must at least match the seven-time champion’s result in London to keep top spot, meaning a championship-match clash between the two would be a straight one-on-one shootout for top spot. Despite that looming prospect, Alcaraz is unlikely to be distracted against Medvedev as he looks to avenge his Wimbledon defeat from three years ago.
“He's playing great here on grass. He has had a great, great year as well,” said Alcaraz of Medvedev, who is just 275 points behind the second-placed Spaniard in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. “I lost the first match we played here on grass. So I have to learn [from that], but I’m going to enjoy the semi-final.
“I think I'm playing great, I have a lot of confidence right now, so it's going to be a really good match, I think. I’m going to enjoy it.”