With Novak Djokovic out of Indian Wells, one man takes center stage in the Southern California desert.
Daniil Medvedev conquered the Djokovic mountain. He denied the Serbian superstar the first Grand Slam in men’s tennis since Rod Laver in 1969, and the first Grand Slam in the sport since Steffi Graf in 1988. Medvedev became the first member of his cohort — the Medvedev-Alexander Zverev-Stefanos Tsitsipas-Matteo Berrettini group — to win a major championship AND beat a member of the Big Three to do so.
With Roger Federer injured and aging, and Rafael Nadal also hurt (but having more chances to win big titles), Djokovic was the only member of the Big Three who was able to make the journey to New York. Medvedev and everyone else in the locker room knew that ultimate respect only emerges from beating Djokovic and crossing the threshold.
Now that Medvedev has done the deed and lifted a significant career burden from his body and mind, he will be perceived differently. Indian Wells therefore represents the beginning of his new attempt to handle pressure and the adjusted expectations which have visited his career.
While we wait to see if Zverev, Tsitsipas, Berrettini, and other strivers will solve the major-tournament puzzle in 2022, Medvedev is currently the foremost point of focus in men’s tennis. He hasn’t won Indian Wells. This would be a great time for him to let everyone know that if Djokovic isn’t involved, Medvedev is overwhelmingly the man to beat on the ATP Tour.
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