After Winning The US Open, Medvedev Remains Plenty Motivated At Indian Wells

Daniil Medvedev (photo: ATP video)

INDIAN WELLS/WASHINGTON, October 10, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Top seed Daniil Medvedev played his first match since winning the US Open last month when he faced Mackenzie McDonald in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open Saturday evening in the southern California palm desert.

A winner in 15 of his past 16 matches spread over three tournaments – back-to-back Masters 1000 events in Toronto and Mason, Ohio, plus the US Open – the Russian-born Medvedev, who lives in Monte Carlo, also helped lead Team Europe to its fourth straight Laver Cup triumph. He brought a career 4-0 head-to-head record into his match against the American McDonald, who was a finalist at the Citi Open two months ago, as he began his quest to win his second ATP Masters 1000 title this season after capturing Toronto in August.

Medvedev looked sharp in his 6-4, 6-2 victory that lasted one hour and 13 minutes and headlined the night session on Stadium 1. He hit four aces, won 83 percent (24 of 29) of his first-serve points and tallied 18 winners out of his 60 points won against McDonald’s 42. The World No. 2 was one of two top seeds to roll to a straight-set victory Saturday. Women’s top seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic also advanced to the next round with a 7-5, 6-2 win over 106th-ranked qualifier Magdalena Frech of Poland.

One thing became very apparent from observing Medvedev: His motivation to do well and to win remains as great as ever. He looked confident throughout and never got down on himself.

“I played quite well and I’m happy with my tennis because I hadn’t played well at Indian Wells before and I haven’t been playing that well n practices before [the tournament],” Medvedev said during an on-court interview after improving his 2021 win-loss record to 49-10. “[I am] really happy with my performance. That’s the most important [thing] no matter how I played before the tournament.”

Recently, during his pre-tournament news conference, Medvedev, 25, said he’s motivated and came to the Coachella Valley prepared. He spent the week before coming to Indian Wells in Los Angeles working out at the UCLA campus. He has stayed in the United States since winning the US Open last month.

“We can’t know before the tournament what the result is going to be but even if I lose [in the] second round here, it is nothing to do with the motivation,” Medvedev said.  “It is because of the opponent or that I was not playing that well. I am going to play a few tournaments for the rest of the year and I am going to try my best and win them.”

Medvedev’s win improved his record at Indian Wells to 4-3. In Monday’s third round, he’ll face No. 27 seed Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, who defeated No. 59 Marcos Giron of the United States, 7-6 (2), 7-5.

As the season winds down, after Indian Wells, Medvedev plans to soldier on and defend his titles at the Paris Masters in Bercy and at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

Daily Telegraph: Raducanu closing in on naming new coach

According to published reports, the Daily Telegraph of London’s Simon Briggs reports that Emma Raducanu, 18, who last month won the US Open in just her second Grand Slam event, is closing in on naming a new, permanent coach. The front runner appears to be Carlos Rodriguez, 57 who formerly worked with both Justine Henin and Li Na.

The World No. 22 Raducanu, whose 10-match winning streak was halted with her 85-minute 6-2, 6-4 loss to Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus Friday night at Indian Wells, has entered three more events this season – in Moscow; Cluj-Napoca, Romania; and Linz, Austria – and could possibly qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Briggs writes: “Raducanu insisted last week that she would wait for the right candidate to emerge. But it is thought that Rodriguez, who coached Li Na to the 2014 Australian Open title, has been identified by her family and agents as a leading contender.

“Raducanu’s immediate circle are a tight-knit group, but the word circulating among British tennis insiders is that IMG – the super-agency which manages Raducanu – have been working on a preferred coaching solution since August.”

Raducanu shows maturity, perspective in her post-match comments

By all accounts, British teen sensation Emma Raducanu showed great maturity and a sense of perspective in her post-match news conference via Zoom with reporters Friday night after losing to 100th-ranked Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open. Among her comments:

“I’m still so new to everything. Like the experiences that I’m going through, even though I might not feel 100 percent amazing right now, I know they’re for the greater good. For the bigger picture, I’ll be thanking this moment.

“So, yeah, that’s the less I think, that you can easily get sucked into being so focused on the result and getting disappointed. I mean, I’m 18 years old. I need to cut myself some slack.”

“I haven’t had much experience with night matches. I’m still very, very new to the tour. I think that experience just comes from playing week in, week out and experiencing all these different things.

“Yeah, I’m kind of glad that what happened today happened so I can learn and take it as a lesson. So going forward, I’ll just have more experience banked.”

“I’m not match-tight right now. Like, I haven’t played a competition in a month, since the US Open. That will just come just playing week in, week out.

“What do I need to work on? I mean, I’ll probably just go back and review the match, probably tomorrow when I can look at it with a clear head. Yeah, from then I’ll be able to plan.”

With shoes and wedding ring in tow, Murray can focus on tennis, again

Andy Murray returned this week to play Indian Wells for the first time since 2017. Until he took Stadium 1 court Friday night for his match against Adrian Mannarino, which he won 6-3, 6-2, the British great had been more in the news for his off-the-court dilemma that involved a pair of stinky shoes and his wedding band that was attached to the shoelaces.

Both the shoes and his wedding band went missing after he left the shoes under his rental vehicle to air out rather than bringing them inside his hotel room. Murray, 34, took to the social media airwaves to explain his predicament. A day later, thankfully, they were back in Murray’s possession.

As for the 121st-ranked Murray’s one-hour and 24-minute win over No. 51 Mannarino, he said during his on-court interview: “It’s been four years since I was last here. I think it’s one of the best places to play tennis on Tour. It’s been a tough road to get back and it was so nice that so many people managed to come out and support today. I really enjoyed it.”

Murray, who received a wild card into the main draw and now will play No. 30 seed Carlos Alcaraz of Spain Sunday afternoon, outpointed Mannarino 60-42 and finished off the victory on his third match-point opportunity.

I thought my mentality was good tonight,” Murray admitted. “I sort of focussed just on every single point. I don’t know if it felt it inside the stadium, but it was pretty breezy on the court, especially in the first set. Maybe some of the points were not that consistent, but I fought for every single point. That was the goal coming into the match and it got me the win.”

Who says singles players don’t make good doubles players?

Whomever said singles players don’t make good doubles players should think again. On Saturday in a pair of first round matches, Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff and Alexander Zverev teamed to beat No. 6 seeds Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil, 6-4, 6-4. Earlier in the day, Italy’s unseeded Fabio Fognini and Lorenzo Sonego defeated No. 3 seeds Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, 3-6, 6-3, 10-8.

Struff and Zverev, who reached the Tokyo Olympics quarterfinals, combined to hit six aces and broke their opponents’ serve four times. Meanwhile, Granollers and Zeballos came in having won three titles this season, including two ATP Masters 1000 titles  (Madrid and Mason, Ohio), and had won 13 of their past 15 matches.

Saturday’s BNP Paribas Open results

Sunday’s BNP Paribas Open order of play

Around the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

• There were 16 men’s seeds in action Saturday as the upper half of the draw began second-round play. Among the winners were No. 16 seed Reilly Opelka of the United States, who fired 11 aces and hit 36 winners in his 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 123 Taro Daniel of Japan. He won 90 percent (26 of 29) of his first-serve points and did not face a break point. He’s now won 10 of his past 14 matches and improved to 11-5 in Masters 1000 competition this season.

Other seeds also advancing were: No. 4 Andrey Rublev of Russia, who defeated No. 116 Carlos Taberner of Spain, 6-3, 6-4; No. 6 Casper Ruud of Norway, who beat No. 85 Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain, 6-1, 6-2; No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who defeated No. 71 Alexei Popyrin of Australia, 6-1, 7-5; No. 9 Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who advanced by retirement over fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil, 3-0; No. 11 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, who beat 145th-ranked American qualifier Maxime Cressy, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5; and No. 15 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, who defeated No. 80 Guido Pella of Argentina, 7-5, 6-3.

Also, No. 18 Dan Evans of Great Britain, who rallied to defeat No. 53 Kei Nishikori of Japan, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; No. 19 Aslan Karatsev of Russia, who beat 135th-ranked qualifier Salvatore Caruso of Italy, 6-0, 6-2; No. 21 Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, who bested No. 102 Tennys Sandgren of the United States, 6-4, 5-7, 6-0; No. 23 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who beat No. 114 Daniel Altmaier of Germany, 6-4, 6-2; and No. 26 Lloyd Harris of South Africa, who defeated No. 43 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain, 6-3, 6-3.

Among the upsets, No. 32 seed Sebastian Korda lost to 49th-ranked fellow American Frances Tiafoe, 6-0, 6-4. The Hyattsville, Md. native dominated the opening set and broke to go ahead 4-3 in the second set of the afternoon’s featured match on Stadium 1 before Korda saved three match points during a 14-point ninth game. Finally, Tiafoe won on his fourth match point with a nifty backhand winner – his 17th winner of the match and seventh from the backhand side – to close out the one-hour and 20-minute victory.

• Meanwhile, the women’s draw completed its second round with 15 women’s seeds in action. No. 12 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia beat No. 65 Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3 to reach the third round of Indian Wells for the first time. Jabeur, who recorded her WTA-leading 45th victory of the season, outpointed Sevastova 105-87.

Other seeded winners moving into the third round included: No. 1 Karolina Pliskova and No. 3 Barbora Krejcikova, both of the Czech Republic, No. 10 Angelique Kerber of Germany, No. 15 Coco Gauff of the United States, No. 16 Bianca Andreescu of Canada, No. 18 Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, No. 20 Daria Kasatkina of Russia, No. 21 Paula Badosa of Spain, No. 22 Danielle Collins of the United States, and No. 26 Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia.

The biggest upset was turned in by No. 47 Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia, who scored her fourth career Top 10 with with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 victory over No. 5 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain, a week after the World No. 6 won the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic. It was Tomljanovic’s first Top 10 win this season after going 0-6. Also, No. 6 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece dropped a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 decision to No. 46 Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland; No. 28 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain fell to 151st-ranked qualifier Anna Kalinskaya of Russia, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2; and No. 30 Camila Giorgi of Italy lost to No. 81 Amanda Anisimova of the United States, 6-4, 6-1.

“Quotable …”

During a Friday afternoon interview with Tennis Channel, BNP Paribas Open tournament director Tommy Haas, who appeared in 111 ATP Masters 1000 events during his playing career, spoke about the youth movement in the ATP, in which all of the Top 10 seeds are 25-years-old or younger – which includes a new Big Three of Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev – and who might be best positioned to take the mantle from the original Big Three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

“I’m excited about all of these guys,” Haas said. “We’ve talked about them for the last four or five years. I remember Sascha Zverev being here in 2016. I watched that match against Rafael Nadal. He had a very easy volley for a match point to actually beat him there and missed it and ended up losing the match. At that point on, you could tell that it was just going to be a matter of time. If you look at all of the things he’s achieved, it’s quite phenomenal. The only thing that’s missing is [winning] a Grand Slam title. As a [fellow] German, personally I’d like to see him do well and get into the second week and get to the quarters and semis and have these big matchups. He’s playing Jenson Brooksby [here] in the second round, whom I really like.

“Tsitsipas has got an all-around game,” Haas added. “Selfishly, I really like his one-handed backhand. As a former player and looking at the conditions as well, I think they suit him pretty well. He’s like a little more time, he faces heavy spin, but can be aggressive. He moves well, can come to the net and finish it off. Those are key aspects in order to do well here.

“I’ll be interested to see how Medvedev deals in this situation and with these conditions. He likes a faster hard court. These are all things that go into the details of who is going to do well. … It’s about getting [your] confidence going and then anything’s possible.”