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Second seed Daniil Medvedev is seeking his 11th ATP Tour crown at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Medvedev: At Home In Monte-Carlo, But Not On Clay

Russian seeks maiden clay-court Masters 1000 title

Second seed Daniil Medvedev should feel comfortable playing at home in Monte-Carlo, right?

The Russian lives and trains in the south of France, and works with a French coach, Gilles Cervara. He took questions in English and French ahead of his fourth appearance at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, where the 10-time titlist is seeking his first ATP Masters 1000 crown on clay. 

“[I’m] really happy to be here. I like the tournament. Played good once here,” Medvedev said. “[I] can stay at home, which helps with all the bubbles and everything. [I’m] really lucky to be able to stay at home this week.

“It's very unfortunate that we won't have any fans, but now all the club is for us. It's definitely one of the most beautiful tournaments in the world right now.”

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Unfortunately, that’s where the sense of comfort ends for Medvedev in Monte-Carlo. The Russian is famously averse to the terre battue, a fact that he was not shy about in his pre-tournament press conference.

“Honestly, there's nothing I like on clay,” Medvedev said with a wry smile. “There's always bad bounces, you're dirty after playing. I really don't enjoy playing on clay.”

That’s not to say Medvedev hasn’t been working hard to improve his game, or that he hasn’t had any big results on the surface.

Nothing boosts confidence like defeating Novak Djokovic at a Masters 1000 event, and that’s exactly what Medvedev accomplished in 2019 at this very venue. The Russian surprised even himself with a run to the semi-finals (l. Lajovic), his best result on clay to date.

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“After what happened two years ago, I know I can play well on this court,” Medvedev said. “Every time I practise on clay, after I play my match, I try to do my best, but it's difficult for me.”

Medvedev, who has yet to win a match at Roland-Garros in four appearances, revealed that adapting his game to clay has always been a challenge. For the Russian, a cerebral thinker on the tennis court, it’s just as much of a mental puzzle as it is a tactical one.

“Mentally I think for me the most important is going to be to know that some shots that maybe would be winners or which I would win the point on hard courts, it's definitely not the case on clay courts,” he explained. “You need to do maybe three good shots, one of which would be enough on hard courts. That's tough sometimes for me to understand.”

Tactically, the Russian’s game also works against him on clay. Whereas on hard courts, Medvedev has made a habit of finding a way to win even on his worst days by falling into his go-to patterns and leaning on his backhand, on clay it’s a different story.

“If I play [on clay] like on hard courts, it's not that amazing with my flat strokes,” he explained. “[I’m] working on putting some more spin, some more trajectory… All of this is tough because for nine or 10 months, I'm playing like I'm used to. Then I have to change it for two months, still keeping the things that I do well also. You cannot change [your] game completely.”

Second seed Medvedev will be ready to give the clay another chance as he begins his quest for a maiden clay-court Masters 1000 trophy against Filip Krajinovic or Nikoloz Basilashvili. He has landed in 11-time champion Rafael Nadal’s half of the draw. But with no points to defend during the clay swing, if Medvedev can find his footing he could challenge Djokovic for the No.1 spot in the FedEX ATP Rankings.

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