Octopus Medvedev has tentacles on Nole’s throne

The Russian will try to defend his title at the ATP Finals in the afternoon, with the aim of replacing Djokovic as the king of world tennis

Four years ago when he was number 63 in the world he often happened to be sparring partner to the top ten of the time. Some of them, after having dribbled with him, once they left the field they let themselves go to comments such as: “But with that awkward game, where does this boy think he’s going?”. That boy was Daniil Medvedev who this afternoon in Turin will play the second consecutive final of the Finals as title holder.

Yesterday he got rid of the increasingly surprising Norwegian Casper Ruud in less than an hour and twenty. Today he will try to score an encore in the Tournament of Masters against a magnificent Alexander Zverev who, with his winning serves, managed to tame his majesty Novak Djokovic. Daniil, 25 years old from Moscow who lives in Monte Carlo, No. 2 in the ranking with a Grand Slam, an edition of the Finals and 11 ATP titles, is undoubtedly the new phenomenon of tennis. The one who seems destined in the short term to take the legacy of the Serbian world tennis leader.

In the circuit his colleagues call him the Octopus for his ability to reach every ball thanks to his very long arms and legs. His is an unorthodox tennis, certainly not for fine palates. Movements and strokes are part of a personal repertoire built over time and always improving thanks to his coach, the French Gilles Cervara. In short, it is not beautiful to see but so effective as to anesthetize the opponents. The cross backhand has always been his best shot but over time he also has a gunshot forehand which on the fast becomes a lethal weapon. Against the Russian either you manage to play above rhythm, as Jannik Sinner did for part of the match last Thursday, or you are inevitably caught by his tentacles.

We remember him raw talent right at the Next Gen in Milan in 2017, in the company of compatriot Karen Khachanov who at the time promised more than him. Instead Daniil soon put the arrow and today is on the road that will lead him to equal if not to surpass compatriots Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin, world number one respectively in 1999 and 2000. Medvedev is an athlete with a capital A. Lots of training and great attention to detail. Privacy is sacred, little or nothing is known about his wife Daria. The freedoms granted on social media are almost all reserved for sponsors. On the field, however, he is another person. His genius, at times, is accompanied by a truly intolerable recklessness. Memorable was the quarrel with the New York public who whistled him during the 2019 US Open because he had abruptly torn a towel from a ball boy. He turned to the stands showing his middle finger, causing the inevitable uproar.

After all, we also had a taste in Turin during the match with Sinner. For all this today Daniil Medvedev is admired by fans, but not loved as his talent deserves. One thing, however, is certain: the Octopus is not afraid of anyone; the only people who still manage to put pressure on him are Olga and Sergey, the parents. For the child Daniil they had chosen swimming. He was the one who preferred tennis, because hitting the ball against a wall was more pleasant than diving into the pool. Dad and mom were his mentors and contributed greatly to instilling a winning mentality in him.

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Octopus Medvedev has tentacles on Nole’s throne