Match Reaction

‘Stubborn’ Medvedev Says He Should Have Altered Return Stance

Former World No. 1 slips to 1-4 in Grand Slam finals
September 11, 2023
Daniil Medvedev admits he should have adjusted his return stance as the match wore on.
2023 Getty Images
Daniil Medvedev admits he should have adjusted his return stance as the match wore on. By ATP Staff

Daniil Medvedev has two chief regrets from his US Open final defeat to Novak Djokovic: one that played out over the course of the match and one that came and went within seconds.

Unable to repeat his 2021 US Open final victory against the Serbian, Medvedev said that he paid the price for not altering his deep-court return stance, which Djokovic exploited with 22 serve/volley plays, of which he won all but two.

And he won’t quickly forget his split-second decision when he held set point to level the match to attempt a cross-court pass rather than hit down-the-line for a near-certain winner.

"Oh, regrets, for sure. Should have won it. Should have won it, but sometimes tennis is not that easy,” Medvedev said. “Passing for sure down the line, not cross, but I have two choices and I chose the wrong one. Had I won the second set maybe it could have been a different game.”

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Medvedev appeared the fitter player during the exhausting 104-minute second set, when Djokovic did not look like his normal elastic and balanced self. And playing his best tennis of the match, he would have had significant momentum heading into the third had he levelled the match.

“He was tired. He was missing some shots at the end of some long rallies,” Medvedev said of Djokovic, who reclaims the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking Monday, when he will begin his record-extending 390th week at the top. “That's why it was a pity that I didn't win the second set because I felt like I was all over him, like I was dominating in a way.”

The former World No. 1 and Nitto ATP Finals champion also took accountability for not moving in closer on return, despite Djokovic exploiting his deep return stance throughout the match, especially with serve/volley plays on key points. After succeeding with his deep-court stance in the semi-finals to claim his first victory in three meetings this year with Carlos Alcaraz, Medvedev said that he had hoped the tactic would work again in the final, but that he wasn’t able to execute.

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“Was a little bit stubborn on return. I probably should have changed my position,” he said.

“I tried to change in my mind what I was doing on return, like either going a little bit high or low or line, cross. I just didn't manage to put the ball in the court many times or to put the ball where I wanted to.

"So that was different [to when I played] Carlos. I managed to be good returning from far, and that's what I'm good at. I don't really care too much if the guy is serving and volleying. It makes it a little bit tougher but he has to do it good. Novak first of all does it good, so that's the first part.

"And then the second part is that I didn't manage to return well enough, and I don't want to say because of him. It was more of myself and I should have been less stubborn and gone forward earlier in the match, because I only started doing it a little bit in the third set. But the match was a different story.”

Medvedev is now 55-12 on the season, including a Tour-best 38-6 on hard courts. He has won five titles, including ATP Masters 1000 trophies in Miami and Rome (his first title on clay). Along with Djokovic and Alcaraz, he has qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held in Turin 12-19 November.

Medvedev has contested five Grand Slam finals, finishing runner-up at the Australian Open in 2021-22 and at the US Open in 2019 and this year. He triumphed at Flushing Meadows in 2021, when he denied Djokovic's a calendar-year Grand Slam in the title match.

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