Medvedev turns brutal as he clinches five-setter against Jannik Sinner, up next Carlos Alcaraz

Winners Daniil Medvedev and Carlos Alcaraz exult after winning matches at Wimbledon (Image: Wimbledon)

Talk of revenge in tennis, it has many meanings. Some players smart after a defeat, some players sulk and some wait for the right opportunity to hit back. Dangerous Daniil Medvedev from Moscow had lost the Australian Open final to now World No.1 Jannik Sinner this January. Call it luck, or call it pluck, Daniil turned dangerous at the Centre Court on Tuesday as he used every trick in his game to outgun Jannik Sinner 6-7 (7/9), 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-3 in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

Rain has ruined outdoor plans for witnessing tennis on grass at The Championship. When they roll over the retractable roof at Centre Court, the whole brand of tennis becomes different. After all, playing indoor, usually means hard courts, clay or on a carpet. Never mind, Wimbledon has to clear a backlog of matches, and Medvedev was in no hurry to do that.

For those fans who were still replaying the Australian Open final from January in their minds, where Sinner had triumphed, the conditions were much different. Fact is, after becoming World No.1 and getting seeded No.1 at Wimbledon, Sinner has come under scrutiny. After all, if mere computer rankings are enough to decide who is the numero uno, then to ignore pedigree and past performance on grass is a sin committed by the seedings committee at Wimbledon.

Yes, Sinner was unwell, he had to take a break. He was also feeling  breathless in the contest and even his pulse rate had dropped. Well, if the biggest player in terms of seedings was in trouble, Medvedev was not going to be kind. After all, the win-loss record against Sinner has been hurting him for a while. Then again, whether a player gets injured or starts feeling queasy, as Sinner did, he did take a medical time out. But once back, he played good, strong tennis before Medvedev exploded into brilliance.

Jeez, for a man who at 28 loves hard courts and loathes all other surfaces, Medvedev had become a convert at Centre Court. He embraced grass and the heavy conditions to crank up big serves, showcase his tennis skills and become ruthless. There is no room for being kind in tennis. So much hype has been around Sinner, even though, once upon a time, Wimbledon showed more respect to grass-court exponents. That breed is now almost extinct and you get to see players with heavy artillery stuff from the baseline and those engaging in long rallies who can win.


Medvedev is not a one-dimensional player by any yardstick. In matches like these, a quarter-final at the Mecca of tennis, he used a strong mind as well to beat Sinner with strokes which were penetrative as well as purposeful. As a tactician, Medvedev is a monster. These days, he is also learning to volley as well and vary his return of serve, since Sinner fires in first serves and second serves which hurt.

To be sure, in tennis, there is nothing called compassion or being kind in a match. The mindset of Medvedev, for some, would be that of a sadist, wanting to exact revenge. And when he sensed the opportunity, the tall  Muscovite cranked up his game to win a five-set thriller in exactly four hours.  This was a performance which will help him relax mentally, since the losing trend has been snapped.

“Already this morning (Tuesday), I didn’t feel great. Had some problems and then fatigue, it was tough,” said Sinner later. That was an understatement of sorts as Medvedev loves long matches and keeps going. He has enough gas in his tank, when it comes to the climactic fifth set.

So how did Medvedev feel, overall? “To be honest, at the Australian Open I did a lot of good things tactically. I didn’t manage to get it to the end, but I felt like I was playing well. I tried to do it in Miami, also. It didn’t work. I think I went a little too much. I tried to use it today (Tuesday). Mentally it was a good match today because I actually didn’t think about the match in Australia. I was not before the fifth set, Oh, my God, it’s again five sets. No, I was there to fight, to do my best. Was only thinking about it in a good way to prepare tactically,” said Medvedev. Pardon his halting English. His tennis certainly was not stuttering.

Up next for Medvedev is Carlos Alcaraz, on Friday, in the semi-finals, which will also be a tough match. Defending champion Alcaraz has also made it a habit of going through tense moments on the court before winning. On Tuesday, Alcaraz, the defending champion, bulldozed Tommy Paul in four sets. Yes, he did fall behind a set. Sensing there was danger, he regained his momentum for a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 result.

A lot may feel Alcaraz has not been winning fluently. That would be a wrong assumption as four-setters are par on grass, more so with more variables coming into play now. Indeed, mentality, a word used so often in sport these days, defines how a big player handles tight moments. To lose the first set and bounce back like a yo-yo, Alcaraz does it regularly, even though the fans feel nervous.

“I believe that I can be back. If I am struggling a little bit to find the solutions, I believe at the end, I will come back. Even here in the Grand Slam, the matches are longer, I have more to recover. I believe in myself the whole time,” stressed Alcaraz, on how he does not choke under pressure or get overwhelmed, at the post match press conference. Friday will see a thriller, hopefully, Medvedev versus Alcaraz. Sparks will fly