© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Daniil Medvedev consistently hit deep strokes en route to the Western & Southern Open title in Cincinnati last year

For Daniil, Depth Is A Diamond

Hitting deep counted for more than speed of shot in Medvedev’s Cincinnati title run

It’s easy to be mesmerised by Daniil Medvedev’s unorthodox groundstrokes.

To better wrap your head around what makes the 6’6” Russian so potent from the back of the court, don’t focus on his flailing follow-throughs. Keep your eye on the ball as it travels like a laser beam to the other side of the court, and notice how deep it lands near the baseline.

Daniil dines on depth.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Medvedev’s maiden ATP Masters 1000 title at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati last summer, identifies that he never lost the depth battle in his six matches. Hitting the ball deep in the court is arguably the best thing you can do to force an error in tennis, as your opponent has to either move back to hit the ball in their strike zone or shorten their swing to successfully time the ball on the rise. Quite often, they do neither, and errors abound.

Deep Groundstrokes (Percentage Shots Deep Of Service Line)
In Medvedev’s opening round 6-2, 7-5 victory over Kyle Edmund, both players hit 85 per cent of their rally balls past the service line. From then on, Medvedev hit the ball deeper than every opponent. Overall, Medvedev hit on average 85 per cent of his shots past the service line, while opponents managed just 79 per cent.

Medvedev's Run To 2019 Cincinnati Title

Round
Opponent Opp. % Shots
Past Service Line
Med. % Shots
Past Service Line
Final
David Goffin 83%
88%
SF
Novak Djokovic 80%
82%
QF
Andrey Rublev 86%
91%
R16 Jan-Lennard Struff 77%
86%
R32
Benoit Paire 62%
79%
R64
Kyle Edmund 85%
85%
-
Average 79%
85%

Winners & Unforced Errors
You would naturally associate hitting more winners with winning more matches, but it’s not always the case. Medvedev failed to hit more winners than his opponent in every match, and only 39 per cent (55/103) of overall winners came off the Russian’s racquet. In four of the six matches, Medvedev’s winners were all in single digits. His opponents were always in double digits, with Paire and Djokovic leading the way with 19 winners each in their respective matches against the Muscovite.

Where Medvedev did excel was committing fewer unforced errors. He only committed 41 per cent (103/250) of total unforced errors, and only once, against Djokovic, did he commit more (24-19) than his opponent.

Cross-Court & Down-The-Line
Hawk-Eye ball-tracking technology uncovered that almost two out of three shots for both Medvedev and his opponents were directed cross-court, with the other third struck down-the-line. The Russian hit 63 per cent of his shots on average cross-court and 37 per cent down-the-line, which were the same combined percentages for his opponents.

Speed Of Shot
While Medvedev hit the ball significantly deeper (85% to 79%) past the service line than his opponents, his average groundstroke speed was slightly slower from both wings.

Average Forehand Speed

Medvedev = 72mph
Six Opponents = 73mph

Average Backhand Speed

Medvedev = 65mph
Six Opponents = 66mph

Medvedev has risen to No. 5 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and will be looking to defend his Western & Southern Open title in New York later this month. Of all the jewels in his game, depth is a diamond.