October 15, 2019
Daniil Medvedev is taking the tennis world by storm.
By his own admission, what he has done in 2019 has been ‘outrageous.’
Six consecutive finals and three titles have propelled the 23-year-old to world number four.
Recently the Russian won Shanghai and there seems to be no stopping the next generation’s most dangerous player.
Some are even starting to suggest that Medvedev will become world number one next year.
Many, including the player himself, have put his increased mental strength at least partly down to his marriage to Daria.
She seems to have inspired him to achieve a new level.
There is no player in the world who can feel entirely confident when they play Medvedev these days.
Do the likes of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal fear Medvedev most?
The new world rankings suggest they should.
Hang on, we hear you say, let’s take another look at Shanghai.
It was Alexander Zverev who got the better of the brilliant Djokovic.
And it was Stefanos Tsitsipas who defeated the great Federer.
These two rising stars have long been heralded as the future the game.
There is of course some substance to these claims. Zverev and Tsitsipas add charisma and class to general picture.
They are superstars of the future. Many would say they are superstars already.
Zverev’s triumph in the year-end finals in 2018 showed that he can prevail among the very best.
And yet the German’s record in Grand Slams is still disappointing.
The brutal truth is that neither Zverev nor Tsitsipas has come close to winning a Grand Slam just yet.
The same cannot be said of Medvedev. He pushed Rafael Nadal all the way in that thrilling US Open final a few weeks ago.
You could see that Nadal had almost nothing left in the tank against the rising threat of Medvedev.
Only Rafa’s warrior-like will to win carried him over the line at Flushing Meadows.
In those dramatic moments, Medvedev arguably did more to establish himself on the Grand Slam stage than Zverev and Tsitsipas put together.
And as Daniil grows further still in confidence, it won’t get any easier for Nadal, Federer and Djokovic to see him off in 2020.
So yes, well done to Tsitsipas and finalist Zverev for taking big scalps in Shanghai.
But the man who took the title and brushed Zverev aside in the final was of course Medvedev.
And once more, with double faults at key moments, we saw the psychological fragility of Zverev at play.
Further experience will bring Zverev and Tsitsipas to where they want to be mentally.
No doubt they will find the inner force to win Slams sooner or later.
And it will be exciting for us all to watch their further development.
But their young rival seems to have taken the necessary steps more quickly. He is more consistent. The inner belief is starting to become frightening.
Whether we wish to credit Daniil’s wife Daria or not, Medvedev only seems to be growing in psychological strength when it comes to the big occasions.
So, if you asked Nadal, Federer and Djokovic who they feared most for 2020, they would of course offer glowing tributes to Sascha and Stefanos.
But if they were to give an honest answer beyond the diplomacy, they would have to look no further than the new rankings.
In his post-final speech in Shanghai, Zverev even called Medvedev ‘probably the best player in the world right now.’
The Big Three have more reason to fear Daniil Medvedev than anyone else.