World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has looked in sublime form at his first tournament post-lockdown. He has won all of his matches in straight sets so far at the Western & Southern Open in New York this week.
Djokovic's win over Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarterfinals on Wednesday propelled his record in 2020 to a perfect 21-0. He will now face Daniil Medvedev's conqueror Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in the final.
Novak Djokovic has put in a series of spectacular performances all year, which include wins over Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem. But the Serb will be wary of the challenge posed by Bautista Agut who, given their head-to-head record, could be just as tough an opponent as Daniil Medvedev.
The Russian was widely expected to be Novak Djokovic's semifinal opponent, so it was not a surprise that the Serb was asked about him in his post-match press conference on Tuesday. Djokovic spoke briefly about the playing style and mental strength of Medvedev - who had a fine week in New York apart from his stutter against Bautista Agut.
Daniil Medvedev is a very intelligent tennis player: Novak Djokovic
Daniil Medvedev was the defending champion at the Cincinnati Masters, and in his first couple of matches he looked the part. The World No. 5 metronomically worked his opponents over at the start of the tournament, dropping no more than four games in any set before the quarterfinals.
Elaborating on the Russian's style of play, Novak Djokovic talked about how unorthodox his technique is.
"It was a bit unusual at the beginning, especially from the forehand side. It's not the best looking technique, but it is efficient," Djokovic said. "He manages to get that racquet speed in the same moment of impact, which allows him to hit the ball and balance and not make a mistake actually."
Djokovic also talked about how smartly Daniil Medvedev approaches every game. The Russian is one of the tallest players on tour but isn't the most powerful, so he has come up with a unique combination to outsmart his opponents - big serving and robotic baseline consistency.
"Daniil is a great player and also someone that puts a lot of thinking and strategizing in his game, to understand how he can improve. He's a very intelligent tennis player, obviously being so tall gives him advantage to hit big serves. With big serves and good movement and not too many unforced errors from backhand corner, that puts him right there as one of the best players in the world," Novak Djokovic said.
The World No. 1 also talked about the improvements that Daniil Medvedev has made to his game recently, particularly on his weaker forehand wing.
"I think he's penetrating through the court with the forehand more, I guess you can see the results of his work that he's putting in and trying to improve that shot. Backhand is just so hard," Djokovic added.
It's tough to play him on any surface, and particularly on hard: Novak Djokovic
Daniil Medvedev trails the 17-time Major winner Novak Djokovic in their head-to-head meetings 2-4. The two players last met at the ATP Cup 2020, where Djokovic won in three close sets.
The Serb has had a lot of trouble against Medvedev despite what the records show, and he acknowledged as much.
"He is definitely someone who deserves to be top 5 in the world. I know he's someone who is still not satisfied, is going to keep going and try to reach even bigger heights," Djokovic said.
Novak Djokovic then threw more light on Daniil Medvedev's tactics during his matches, saying he plays in a 'cat and mouse' style.
"It's kind of cat and mouse when you play him, really trying to change the depth and not just go left and right, because he likes the rhythm. It's tough to play him, really, on any surface, and particularly on hard," Djokovic finished.Published 27 Aug 2020, 12:51 IST