Patrick Mouratoglou Details Difficulties of Best Servers Against Best Returners Like Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev

Published 08/16/2021, 1:19 AM EDT
Tennis – Australian Open – Men’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 21, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic with Russia’s Daniil Medvedev after their final match REUTERS/Jaimi Joy


Throughout the National Bank Open 2021, American Reilly Opelka served incredibly well to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final. However, against Russian Daniil Medvedev for the title, he found himself astray from his natural game. To explain this, Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou gave the example of Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic.

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According to the French coach, when best servers are under pressure against best returners, their service game is affected. Hence, as Milos Raonic struggles against Novak Djokovic, Opelka did facing Medvedev.

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Mouratoglou gives Novak Djokovic example over Medvedev-Opelka final in Toronto

First of all, Mouratoglou stated that it was a baseline battle between Medvedev and Opelka rather than of serve. Subsequently, sports analyst Mike James highlighted that the American hit far fewer aces than his average of 18 in Toronto.

“Reilly gets much less free points, much longer rallies than against anybody else in the tournament. The match comes back to a baseline battle, and Daniil is stronger there,” Mouratoglou said.

Furthermore, on hearing the statistics, the tennis coach shared the reason behind the problem. In essence, Opelka played far from his best because he was up against Medvedev, one of the best returners on the ATP Tour.

“You are right, Mike, but against the best returners, the beat servers are under pressure and often don’t serve well. Ask Raonic when he plays against Novak,” the Coach responded.

Consequently, the Russian World No.2 lifted his fourth ATP Masters 1000 title, defeating Opelka 6-4, 6-3 in less than 90 minutes. Indeed, it is a perfect start to his US Open series.

Where will Medvedev and Djokovic play next?

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Known as two of the best returners on the Tour, Djokovic and Medvedev met in the Australian Open 2021 final. In that match, the Russian faced a better returner. But even though he lost there, he is now preparing to not repeat the same at the US Open 2021.

Tennis – Australian Open – Men’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 21, 2021 Tournament winner Novak Djokovic of Serbia and runner up Daniil Medvedev of Russia holding their trophies after their final match REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Before going to New York, Medvedev will also play at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio. However, the Serbian World No.1 Novak Djokovic will not join him as he plans to play US Open directly.

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Keeping Mouratoglou’s lesson in mind, it would be interesting to see the next server-returner battle on the Tour. Let’s see if someone can make the exception to this rule.

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Purav Joshi

1120 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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