Daniil Medvedev’s earliest memories of playing tennis on grass have some all-too-familiar faces.
“My first time on grass was when I played junior Wimbledon [in 2013], Medvedev told ATPTour.com last week. “There was a tournament beforehand in Roehampton where they also play qualifiers for Wimbledon. I actually lost to Nick Kyrgios [in the second round]and he won the tournament against Sascha [Alexander] Zverev in the final.
“They were really amazing at their age. I was nowhere near them because they were very young when they went on the professional Tour, into the Top 100 and started playing the best in the world. I remember they played the final. I think I actually saw it and it was like watching two legends, two junior legends play.”
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Medvedev may have taken a little longer to join Kyrgios and Zverev among the ATP Tour’s elite, but he now owns more tour-level trophies than both of his former junior rivals. The 20th and most recent of his titles, which saw him clear of 19-time champion Zverev, came at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in May. It was Medvedev’s first ATP Tour crown on clay, heralded by many as a breakthrough for a player who has never been shy about his strong preference for hard courts.
Now holding tour-level titles on hard (18 of his 20 triumphs have come on the surface), grass (Mallorca, 2021) and clay (this year’s Rome victory), the world No. 3 is closer to considering himself as an ‘all-court’ player?
“I still believe in myself the most on hard courts because that’s still where my biggest titles are,” Medvedev said. “One Grand Slam, [five] Masters 1000s. I was never able to achieve any kind of close to other surfaces, [but] I know I can finally play well, even on clay. To win a Masters 1000 [in Rome] was incredible. There are some great clay-court players who have never won a Masters, so it’s just unreal.
“I know I can play well on grass. It’s just something I’m much more confident about even on hard courts. But when I play, regardless of the surface, I always try to win. I always try to be the best, although sometimes it doesn’t work. And I try that every year on clay and grass, even though I like hard courts more.”
Medvedev arrives at Wimbledon with an 8-4 record at the grass court major. The 27-year-old enjoyed his best run at SW19 on his last appearance by reaching the fourth round in 2021. For someone used to competing for the biggest prizes in the game, this is something he is keen to improve on.
“At the moment Wimbledon is the Grand Slam where I have my worst result, [reaching the] fourth round,” Medvedev said. “Roland Garros is the quarterfinals. So I definitely want to change that. I feel like I’m able to play well [at Wimbledon]but as always there are a lot of tough opponents who won’t let you do this.
“I want to show my best there. [It is] incredible to be there every time you come. You step on the lot and you know even when you enter the player lobby that you immediately see grass all around and it’s perfectly cut. You just feel, ‘Well, here I am at Wimbledon and it’s a great feeling’, and I’ll be happy to experience that this year.
Medvedev is not the only big name seeking a first deep run at the All England Club. World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz reached the fourth round in 2022 and lifted an ATP 500 trophy at The Queen’s Club last week in just his third tour event on grass. Promising signs for the Spaniard on a surface that Medvedev believes presents a complex challenge.
“I feel like grass is a really interesting surface because a lot of times I’ll watch somebody play and in my mind I’ll think, ‘This guy can usually play well on grass. Big serve, big forehand or something like that , know how to cut,'” Medvedev said. “And for some reason he doesn’t like it, and he [doesn’t do well on grass].
“Then someone else comes along [like Alcaraz], where you say in your mind that even though his game isn’t really suited to grass – maybe he doesn’t go online that often and stuff like that – and then he plays so well on grass and he says it himself that it’s his best and preferred surface. That’s where it’s surprising.”
Carlos Alcaraz/Daniil Medvedev” />
Alcaraz and Medvedev’s maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting came at Wimbledon in 2021. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images.
It was Medvedev who ended Alcaraz’s maiden campaign on grass as he eased to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 second-round triumph against the then 18-year-old Spaniard at Wimbledon two years ago. Alcaraz has since lifted 11 tour-level titles, including a maiden major at the 2022 US Open, and risen to become the youngest No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
“In my opinion, the way Carlos plays on all surfaces, he can win maybe five Wimbledons, but you never know,” Medvedev said. “It’s a hard surface to play on. When we played [in 2021], he wasn’t the same player, so I managed to get the best out of this match. Last year I think he improved [on grass] already, played this four-set mod [Jannik] Sinner [in the fourth round]. I remember it was a great match.
“So I think his potential is really high on any surface, but grass is a hard surface for many players. Let’s see how he handles this task.”