“Needs to Be Strengthened”: Coach Reflects on Daniil Medvedev’s Comeback Post COVID-19 at Mutua Madrid Open 2021

Published 04/29/2021, 5:34 PM EDT
Tennis – Australian Open – Men’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 21, 2021 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev reacts during his final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake


World number three Daniil Medvedev had a phenomenal run towards the end of last year. The Russian won the Paris Masters, ATP World Tour Finals and continued the same form at the ATP Cup and the Australian Open this year as well. 

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Medvedev won 20 out of the 21 matches played during this period, with Novak Djokovic being the only person to defeat the young Russian. 

However, things did not turn brighter for Medvedev after the Australian Open as he lost in the second round in Rotterdam and reached the quarter-finals at the Miami Open, where he was the top seed. 

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Tennis – Australian Open – Men’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 21, 2021 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev speaks to the crowd holding the runners up trophy after losing his final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Daniil Medvedev had attained the number two spot in ATP rankings

Medvedev managed to clinch the indoor hard-court tournament at Marseille (ATP 500) before coming to Miami. With these results, the Russian attained the number two position in ATP rankings. 

The Russian wasn’t able to hold on to his precious ranking for long as he tested positive for COVID-19 right before the start of Monte-Carlo Masters and missed the Barcelona Open too. 

Following his monumental victory at the Barcelona Open, Rafael Nadal reclaimed the No. 2 spot from the Russian. In a star-studded lineup at the Mutua Madrid Open this year, the pressure will mount on Medvedev to perform and win big at the event. 

Even though his clay-court records were below par for a top-class player, Medvedev believes that he can make a turnaround this year. 

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“He knows now that he can win the tournaments”- Gilles Cervara

Speaking about the Russian’s tough journey over the past few months and the expectations on him from having been the second-best player in the world for a while, coach Gilles Cervara said, “He knows now that he can win the tournaments he enters. This conviction requires a special skill, and there are not many athletes who have entered this zone. Daniil is there.”

Cervara also mentioned how Medvedev is yet to reach the peak of his confidence on clay. It takes a lot of match practice, but the coach believes that Medvedev will attain it soon.

Tennis – Australian Open – Men’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 21, 2021 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev reacts during his final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Loren Elliott

He still has to go through a lot of stages [on clay], the same ones he went through to get to this level on hard courts and indoors,” Cervar said

The Frenchman, who has been with Medvedev since 2017, was instrumental in molding the Russian to become one of the few players to end the Big-3 dominance on the ATP tour. 

Medvedev’s conviction needs to be strengthened on clay, believes his coach

Medvedev is yet to give any update on how he is feeling after getting infected with the virus. But Cervara believes that it will not take much time for the Russian to bounce back and play at his full strength.

The coach credited the self-belief of Medvedev that was instrumental in him winning back-to-back titles (Paris Masters and World-Tour Finals) last year.

“This conviction is fresh… It needs to be strengthened. It is an unstable balance and that’s what keeps the top guys on their toes,” explained Cervara. 

Tennis – Australian Open – Men’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 21, 2021 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in action during his final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

It was unfortunate for Daniil Medvedev to have his momentum stopped by COVID-19, but it is just a matter of a few tournaments before the Russian goes back to his winning ways. 

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With his not-so-good record on clay, it will be admirable if he makes it to the final four in either the Madrid Open or at the Rome Masters. 

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Sagar Ashtakoula

110 articles

Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Having developed an interest in creating content, he mixed his passion for writing with his love for tennis for 2 years at SportsKeeda before joining the tennis team at EssentiallySports.

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