Why Medvedev Could Crack The Top 10 On Clay
Daniil Medvedev began the 2019 European spring clay-court swing with a 2-11 record on the surface in his career. So perhaps it’s fitting that after winning eight of his first nine matches on clay this season, it’s on the red dirt that the Russian is in good position to make a major move in the ATP Rankings, perhaps even into the Top 10.
With his run to the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell final, Medvedev has now put himself in strong position to climb higher than his current career-high of World No. 14. If he defeats Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final, Medvedev will pass 13th-ranked Karen Khachanov to become the Russian No. 1.
But the real opportunity for improvement will be throughout the rest of the clay court season. Medvedev lost in the first round at Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros last year, so he is only defending 30 points through Paris. Of the six players ranked directly ahead of the Russian, none of them are defending fewer than 200 points.
ATP Ranking Points To Defend Through Roland Garros
|Player||Current Pts||Pts To Defend Through RG||W/Pts Through RG Dropped|
|8. Juan Martin del Potro||3,225||900||2,325|
|9. John Isner||3,085||415||2,670|
|10. Stefanos Tsitsipas||3,030||205||2,825|
|11. Marin Cilic||2,845||720||2,115|
|12. Fabio Fognini||2,840||460||2,380|
|13. Karen Khachanov||2,685||200||2,485|
|14. Daniil Medvedev||2,625 (2,825 w/ Barcelona win)||30||2,595 (2,795)|
With all the points players are defending during this clay swing taken off, Medvedev would move into 10th even if he loses Sunday's final. World No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro, who will move up to eighth on Monday since Stefanos Tsitsipas did not defend the 300 points he earned by reaching the Barcelona final last year, is defending 900 points through the rest of this clay swing. A massive 720 of those points will come at Roland Garros.
Miami finalist John Isner, who will move to ninth on Monday, is defending 415 points through Roland Garros. The American suffered a stress fracture in his left foot in that final against Roger Federer, which will keep him out through at least Madrid. Isner told ATPTour.com three weeks ago that while he hopes to return in Madrid, he will only compete at that ATP Masters 1000 tournament if he feels he is in satisfactory 'tennis shape'.
Medvedev is in some of the best form of any player on the ATP Tour. The Russian, who has made the semi-finals or better at five tournaments this year, owns a Tour-leading 25 wins, six ahead of second-placed Tsitsipas and Guido Pella. His semi-final victory against Kei Nishikori on Saturday was his third against a Top 10 opponent in the past two weeks.
"[It's more] evidence that I could beat these Top 10 players. I can play at the same level. I can stay there physically, mentally," Medvedev said. "It gives you a lot of confidence. If I manage to beat guys like Kei in the semi-finals of an ATP 500 event, then I can do a lot and hopefully I will."
The only player in the group who is ranked just ahead of Medvedev (up until Del Potro) who has earned comparable results on clay this year is Italian Fabio Fognini, the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion. But since Fognini made the Rome quarter-finals, Geneva semi-finals and the fourth round at Roland Garros last year, he is defending 430 more points than Medvedev through the clay-court Grand Slam.
Editor’s Note: Medvedev will not make a straight add of 500 points to the 2,505 he began the week with if he defeats Thiem for the Barcelona title due to the number of countable results he already has at the ATP 500 level. Instead, he will replace a previous semi-final result at this level, which means he would add 320 points to his current total, netting out at 2,825 points on Monday.