ATP Cincinnati 2019: Medvedev d Edmund 6-2 7-5
Monday I built a match report out of the tennis maxim, “You’re only as good as your second serve.” Today I’ll go with a precept drilled into 3.5 level tennis players – “when in doubt, hit it to his backhand.” Daniil Medvedev put that maxim to good use today in a straightforward win over Kyle Edmund.
Medvedev looked very good last week in Montreal until he ran into Rafael Nadal in the final. The lopsided defeat on Sunday didn’t seem to shake Medvedev’s confidence: after three service holds the Russian number 9 seed ran off seven straight games, mostly by hitting slow to medium pace balls to Edmund’s backhand, then waiting for Edmund to miss a backhand, which typically happened after 3 to 5 shots. After Medvedev’s third break in succession, Edmund began making helpless “what can I do?” hand gestures in the direction of his coach, who doubtless began to book long drill sessions.
Then Medvedev either got bored or decided to vary a winning game, violating another intermediate tennis maxim – “always change a losing game, never change a winning one.” Medvedev played four attacking shots in a row and was broken for his pains. The match briefly looked like it might get interesting, but then reverted back into the prior pattern: from 5-3 up, Edmund allowed four straight games to leak away, with his opponent refusing to hit any more aggressive shots apart from his serve.
Skip Schwarzman (@skip1515) tweeted to me that tennis is fundamentally a defensive game – if you make no errors, ever, you’ll beat everybody because eventually they miss.
I was listening to Medvedev as much as watching him today, and I can report that his feet are almost noiseless on the court. Medvedev’s backhand isn’t a shot that will win him a lot of points, but it doesn’t lose many. Kyrgios’ serve is faster and more eye catching, but Medvedev is a very accurate spot server with his first serve, and once baseline rallies got going Edmund struggled to get his opponent out of position. Some of Edmund’s errors were the classic kind an attacker makes against a good defender, though a lot of them were just basic backhand rally balls.
Edmund was at a career high of 14 less than a year ago; it was unlikely that he’d keep his Australian Open 2018 points, and he has a lot of points to defend in October from Beijing, Shanghai and Antwerp. He faces a challenge to stay in the top 30. Medvedev, meanwhile, is 6th in the Race To London, and a couple of decent showings at one of the remaining M1000s or the US Open may gave him a spot in London. The lesson he got at Nadal’s hands last week may be filed away for a later encounter.