Why Does Daniil Medvedev Have a Poor Record on Clay, Especially at French Open?

Published 05/25/2021, 8:39 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev during his second round match against Russia’s Aslan Karatsev REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane


Daniil Medvedev has been underwhelming on clay, even when he has soared the ATP rankings and won numerous titles on hard court. While he is quite strong on hard courts, his performances on clay are less than impressive, to say the least. The fact that he is yet to win a match at French Open is baffling.

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Daniil Medvedev’s numbers on clay and French Open

Medvedev’s career win percentage is 66 percent. His clay-court percentage, however, is an abysmal 35 percent. On clay, he has won just 11 matches and lost 20 matches since turning pro. Moreover, he is the only player among the top 10 to not hold a clay-court title.

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Daniil Medvedev reacts during his round of 32 match against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Medvedev made his French Open debut in 2017, and is yet to break his first-round hoodoo since then. The Russian is on a four-match losing streak at Roland Garros.

Then, in 2021, as he attained an impressive World No.2 ranking, many expected him to change his style to be more effective on the clay court, but Medvedev again failed to influence any of the big tournaments before French Open 2021.

What plagues Daniil Medvedev on clay?

As Medvedev himself explained that his shots, movement, and his physique aren’t suited for the clay court. Medvedev is 6.5 ft tall and given his height, he is much slower than a lot of players. Clay court requires swift changes in direction and Medvedev’s height is certainly a hurdle for that.

Daniil Medvedev in action during his second round match against Russia’s Aslan Karatsev REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Moreover, you need fast movement to stay in rallies on a clay court. Unfortunately, Medvedev is a bit slow on his movement and gets caught out in the rallies. He doesn’t slide around much and hence falls short of the ball when they grow longer.

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Daniil Medvedev’s flat serve and shots ineffective on clay

Then Medvedev is aggressive with his strokes which are flat in nature. On a hard court, the flat strokes would be fast and tough to handle, but the clay-court neutralizes the fast strokes and hence makes them ineffective.

Daniil Medvedev in action during his round of 32 match against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Furthermore, Medvedev posses a strong hard-court game with a potent first serve and flat strokes. However, his first serve on clay becomes easy to handle because of its slow speed. On any hard-court tournament, Medvedev would get free points off his consistent serves, but on clay, many players easily pounce on his first serve.

Mental block for Daniil Medvedev

Lastly, Medvedev is a moody player. His frequent meltdowns on the surface annihilate any prospect of a win. Even if physically he is able to conquer clay, mentally he will be in trouble. At French Open 2020, Medvedev had an outburst in the first round, which then resulted in a point penalty. Similar instances have followed in 2021 as well.

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At the Madrid Open 2021, Medvedev was honest about hating the clay surface. He even pleaded with the chair umpire to default him from playing.

The Russian certainly isn’t as bad on clay as stats suggest. Back in 2019, Medvedev had reached the finals of the Barcelona Open where he was bageled by Dominic Thiem. In the same year, he even beat Djokovic and Tsitsipas on clay. He just needs to evolve his game and add more variations to his arsenal to maybe challenge more on clay.

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Bhavishya Mittal

1084 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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