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Medvedev-Simon, unveiled

Matt Zemek



Luttiau Nicolas/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Network

What? No. Gilles Simon 2.0? How can that describe Daniil Medvedev?

The comparison was never perfect. It still isn’t… but after Saturday’s Queen’s Club semifinal, won by the “original” Gillou in three sets, everyone can now see it plainly.

The shape of the ball isn’t exactly the same. Medvedev has more developed strokes and a greater capacity to hit the ball from a wider range of contact points. Medvedev can serve more authoritatively… but the comparison which always did make sense about Club Med and The Original Gillou is that Medvedev and Simon are psychologically and tactically willing and — more precisely, CONTENT — to do THIS:

The essential link between these two players is not the capacity or the tolerance for long rallies on grass or any other surface, but the CONTENTEDNESS and comfort in doing so. THAT is the true bond between these two men, who were linked not by a journalist or another tour player, but by a coach, in February:

The Medvedev-Simon comparison — imperfect though it is (again, the two are hardly clones of each other if their full arsenals of shots are compared) — deepens when one realizes that both men are known for having engaged Novak Djokovic in very long fourth-round slugfests in Australia. Medvedev did so this year, Simon in 2016. They are annoying opponents when playing effective, engaged defense. “Annoying” is meant as a compliment, not as a criticism.

Does this mean there isn’t anything to criticize in Medvedev and Simon’s shared approach to tennis? No, of course not. For now, though, the instructive point is simply to nail down the connection between the two players, which many might not have been able to see or understand before Saturday, but now recognize with immense clarity.

When you look at Simon’s time on court this tournament, you can see that these longer matches aren’t statistical accidents, but battles willingly engaged in. It’s the product of a desire, not an aberrational occurrence. (Simon making a grass final might be the aberrational occurrence, but that’s a different conversation.)

Gillou 2.0? Now you know.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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