The Number Ones

Daniil Medvedev: No. 1, One of a kind

Medvedev rose to No. 1 in February 2022
June 04, 2024
Daniil Medvedev spent 16 weeks as World No. 1 in 2022.
Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Daniil Medvedev spent 16 weeks as World No. 1 in 2022. By Arthur Kapetanakis

Daniil Medvedev became the 28th player to rise to No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings just before Indian Wells in 2022. View Full List.

First week at No. 1: 28 February 2022
Total weeks at No. 1: 16

At World No. 1
Medvedev broke the 'Big Four' monopoly on World No. 1 by rising to the top of the PIF ATP Rankings in February 2022. He became the first man outside of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to hold the No. 1 position since Andy Roddick in 2004. After just under a year as the sole owner of the No. 2 spot, Medvedev passed Djokovic for top honours after a semi-final showing in Acapulco. His rise to No. 1 was fuelled by 2021 titles at the US Open and at the ATP Masters 1000 in Toronto, as well as runner-up finishes at the 2022 Australian Open and the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters.

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Grand Slam Highlights
A trip to the 2019 US Open final capped a breakout hard-court season for Medvedev and solidified his status as a challenger for the game's biggest titles. A memorable run that saw him go from villain to hero in the eyes of the New York fans put Medvedev on the map for casual tennis viewers, and though his comeback against Nadal in the '19 final fell short, his success in Flushing Meadows was a sign of things to come. After a semi-final run the following year in New York and a trip to the Australian Open final in 2021, Medvedev won his first major title at the 2021 US Open, denying Djokovic the calendar-year Grand Slam with a dominant, straight-sets victory in the championship match. A Grand Slam runner-up five times, Medvedev was edged in five sets on three of those occasions — by Nadal, Djokovic and Jannik Sinner.

Nitto ATP Finals Highlights
Medvedev has not missed the Nitto ATP Finals since making his debut in 2019. In his second appearance, he won the 2020 title with a perfect 5-0 record. After storming through the group stage without dropping a set, including a 6-3, 6-3 win against Djokovic, Medvedev earned comeback wins against Nadal and Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals and final, respectively. He returned to the final in 2022, again going undefeated in group play (this time behind a trio of three-set wins) before dismissing Casper Ruud in the semis. A defeat to Alexander Zverev denied him a repeat title. After a tough-luck round-robin exit in 2022, during which he lost three third-set tie-breaks, Medvedev advanced to the knockout stages for the third time in 2023.

<a href=''>Daniil Medvedev</a>
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

ATP Masters 1000s Highlights
A stellar 2019 season at the ATP Masters 1000s helped put Medvedev on the map. After a surprise semi-final run on the Monte-Carlo clay, Medvedev flashed his hard-court credentials with a final appearance in Montreal and his first two Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai. He beat David Goffin in Cincinnati and Alexander Zverev in Shanghai, and again beat Zverev in the 2020 Paris final for his third crown at this prestigious level. The North American swing again brought out Medvedev's best in 2021, when he followed his first Toronto title (d. Opelka) with a semi-final in Cincinnati and another final in Paris. A relative down year in 2022 was remedied by two ATP Masters 1000 crowns in '23: one in Miami (d. Sinner) followed by a stunning clay title in Rome (d. Rune). In addition to his five titles at five different Masters 1000 events, Medvedev has also reached Indian Wells final in 2023 and 2024.


Biggest Rivalries
With so many Lexus ATP Head2Head meetings between them, Medvedev and Zverev have developed one of the biggest rivalries of the modern era. Medvedev, who lost his first four matches against the German from 2016-18, leads the series 12-7 as of June 2024. After meeting at the Nitto ATP Finals four times in three years from 2019-21 — including the 2021 final (won by Zverev) — the pair squared off six times in 2023. Medvedev won five of those six meetings, including three-setters at the Masters 1000s in Indian Wells and Monte-Carlo. An equally dramatic match unfolded in their first Grand Slam meeting, when a weary Medvedev battled back from two sets down to stun Zverev in the 2024 Australian Open semis. Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas have also developed a longstanding rivalry across more than a dozen Lexus ATP Head2Head meetings. Medvedev leads this series 9-4 as of June 2024, having won each of the first five meetings — including a contentious first matchup at the 2018 Miami Open. Nearly all of their meetings have come at the highest levels of the game, with Medvedev ahead 3-1 at the majors and 4-1 at the Masters 1000s. Tsitsipas has won both of their Nitto ATP Finals meetings, in the  2019 and 2022 group stages.

While Medvedev's is still building his legacy at the age of 28, many aspects of his early career are sure to be remembered long after he retires. His style of play — in short, a big server with supreme defensive skills — is a mould-breaker and new archetype in the modern era. His unusual technique further separates him from his peers, proof that textbook tennis is not the only way to win. Medvedev's personality is also far from textbook for tennis superstars, many of whom are happy to fulfill their media obligations without giving too much away about the inner workings of their mind. Always unpredictable in his press availabilities, Medvedev has become popular with fans and journalists alike for his candid comments perhaps just as much as his tennis.

Memorable Moment
The second half of the 2019 season was Medvedev's own personal coming-out party on the ATP Tour. In a run of six consecutive tournaments, he won three titles (Cincinnati, St. Petersburg, Shanghai) and reached three finals (Washington, Montreal, US Open). Medvedev's US Open run was an odyssey, a compelling journey from villain to hero in the concrete jungle. After rankling the New York fans with his behaviour in his third-round win against Feliciano Lopez — and doubling down on his role as antagonist post-match — Medvedev slowly but surely worked his way into the hearts of the US Open spectators. In a public relations triumph worthy of study in college classrooms, Medvedev ended the fortnight as a fan favourite, a status he solidified with his endearing comments during the trophy ceremony after his comeback attempt against Nadal fell just short after five sets.

Djokovic on Medvedev
"He extracts and provokes unforced errors from everybody because that's his game, that's what he does,” Djokovic said after a straight-sets defeat to Medvedev in Dubai in 2023. "He does it extremely well. He's very patient. He's very athletic. For his height, he moves well. His backhand is one of the most consistent strokes that you have in today's game."

Medvedev on Medvedev
"Since I was young, I was always hearing about other players, top players before, that tennis is similar to chess," Medvedev said ahead of the 2021 US Open. "When I'm on the court, I never think about chess, but I'm thinking, 'OK, which shot do I do next to make my opponent in trouble?' That's what you do in chess. You think about three shots in advance. I think that's a little bit tougher in tennis because, well, it goes so much faster. It's not like your opponent made a shot and you are there for two minutes saying, 'OK, where do I go next?'"

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