Significance of Daniil Medvedev’s win Over Shapovalov in Japan Open Semi Final
The twenty-two-year-old Daniil Medvedev is most certainly having his breakout year in 2018. In the three tournaments that he played before the Japan Open, he had defeated top quality players that include fellow next-gen stars Tsitsipas and Alex de Minaur and two top American players in Steve Johnson and Ryan Harrison. He came very close to defeating Dominique Thiem in St. Petersburg Open quarter final which he lost in a third set tie-breaker.
But it is in the Japan Open that he seems to have finally moved to the next level. Whether he faces Nishikori or Gasquet in the Final, he is certainly going to be a strong contender to lift the title. In this tournament itself, he has defeated Milos Raonic, Diego Schwartzman, Martin Klizan and now, Denis Shapovalov – and all of them in straight sets!
This win over Shapovalov is particularly important as this will now firmly bring him into the conversation of the future superstars of the ATP tour. Whether it his unassuming and steady approach to tennis unlike his flashier fellow next-gen stars or his quiet and subdued nature on and off the court, the unfortunate fact is that he has not got the kind of media coverage and attention that his contemporaries have got.
Alexander Zverev seems to have elevated himself to the top of the pile of next-gen stars with wins in Masters 1000 level, and consistent performances in the last two years. Nick Kyrgios, despite his moody demeanour and theatrics, is still considered by many as possibly the most talented of the lot.
Tsitsipas, through his Bjorn Borg-like looks, his serve and volley style and Federer-esque backhand, has become a darling of the media and tennis fans. Hyeon Chung’s unexpected run into the Australian Open semi-final that included the prized scalp of Novak Djokovic has brought him to limelight. Shapovalov’s flashy style and comparison with Nadal has garnered enough eyeballs.
But somewhere in all this focus on possible future superstars, Daniil Medvedev seems to have missed out from the discussion. Hopefully, this win over Shapovalov will ensure that there is some focus on this Russian talent – there is a lot to like about the rare breed of unassuming players like Medvedev.