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Djokovic vs Medvedev tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Djokovic faces rising Russian for Monte-Carlo Masters semifinal spot

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 18 Apr 2019
  • Novak Djokovic faces Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters
  • Djokovic vs Medvedev is live from the Monte-Carlo Masters on Friday at 12.30pm local/11.30am BST
Novak Djokovic (PA Sport)

Daniil Medvedev pushed Novak Djokovic all the way at the Australian Open – can he do the same at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters as the world no. 1 targets a place in the semifinals?

In a rematch of their grueling Australian Open battle, Novak Djokovic must stay unbeaten against Daniil Medvedev if he is to make the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Friday.

Djokovic is looking to reach the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters for the eight time, and the first time since he won the second of his two titles at the event in 2014, having suffered some surprising defeats in subsequent years – to Jiri Vesely in 2016 in the second round, and to David Goffin and Dominic Thiem in 2017 and 2018 in the quarterfinals and third round respectively.

Djokovic in action against Taylor Fritz (PA Sports)
After taking three sets to defeat Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round, Djokovic was looking for a less uneven and altogether more efficient performance when he took the court to face Taylor Fritz on Thursday – and that was what he produced. Fritz, whose four-match losing streak was snapped when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired during their first-round match, had scored an excellent win over Diego Schwartzman in the second round and kept pace with Djokovic in the opening exchanges, twice pushing to deuce on Djokovic’s serve in the first four games. 

But it swiftly became apparent that Djokovic was merely feeling out his opponent, and the movement of the ball in the windy conditions, because once he got his feet under him, he didn’t look back. Ramping up his returning and shocking Fritz to break and lead 3-2, Djokovic won a 27-shot rally on a crucial 30-30 point as he served to consolidate and it proved to be the turning point of the match. Although Djokovic would be broken once at 5-2, he had no trouble serving out the set at the second time of asking and won the last seven games of the match as he breezed through the second set, with Fritz little more than a spectator. 

‘The first five games were quite close every game. I managed to break his serve and hold mine and I think that’s in a way where I broke the resistance and started swinging freely,’ Djokovic evaluated afterwards. 

‘I played pretty well. There were not too many rallies, a lot of unforced errors from his side as well but on a day like this you’re just trying to hang in there and tactically do the right things to win.’

If Djokovic has little reason to complain about his performance against Fritz, he can also have little cause to repine with how the draw has unfolded. The shock exits of fourth seed Dominic Thiem at the hands of Dusan Lajovic on Thursday, and of eighth seed Karen Khachanov to qualifier Lorenzo Sonego earlier in the week, means that the winner of the quarterfinal between Djokovic and Medvedev will be heavily favoured to win a semifinal against Lajovic or Sonego.

Indeed, Djokovic now looks like a virtual lock to reach the final, and he certainly has the advantage of experience as the only player remaining in the top half who has reached a Masters 1000 Series quarterfinal before.

Daniil Medvedev has recorded that milestone for the first time this week, raising hopes that, although clay may never be his most successful surface, his very poor clay-court season in 2018 – which saw him go 1-5 – was more of an aberration than the pattern to be expected going forward.

Daniil Medvedev (PA Sports)
The lanky Russian has certainly proved that he’s impressive on hard courts over the past couple of years, winning a trio of titles in Sydney, Winston-Salem and Tokyo (the last-named a 500) in 2018 and picking up his fourth career title in Sofia to start 2019. Indeed, Medvedev went 14-3 in his first four events of the year, finishing runner-up in Brisbane, winning Sofia, making the semifinals of Rotterdam and reaching the round of 16 at the Australian Open where he pushed Djokovic as hard as anyone did in Melbourne in 2019. Although he didn’t manage to make a quarterfinal at Indian Wells or Miami, losing to Filip Krajinovic and Roger Federer respectively, the 23-year-old Russian is still eighth in the Race to London right now and dropped just five games in his first two matches at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, although he was made to work much harder by Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round.

Tsitsipas struggled badly in the first set but played much better in the second, while Medvedev experienced a sudden dip, and the Russian had to come back from an early break down in the decider to maintain his unbeaten record against the Greek with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 victory.

It was just Medvedev’s second win over a top-10 player, his first on clay, and as mentioned, put him into a first Masters 1000 Series quarterfinal.

‘He’s had the best 15 months of his career, he’s played really well,’ Djokovic said of Medvedev. 

‘This is one of the up and coming rising stars. Big serve, great backhand, steps in but also has improved his movement a lot. We played a very long match in Australia this year but this is the first time on clay.’

This will be the fourth time that Djokovic and Medvedev have faced off, with all three previous meetings going Djokovic’s way. Medvedev retired after taking a set from Djokovic in Davis Cup in 2017 and lost 4-6, 4-6 to him in Eastbourne that summer, but the match that probably matters most is the Australian Open clash which Djokovic alluded to – a four-set win for the Serb which took three hours and 15 minutes, in which Medvedev attempted to grind and wear Djokovic down in long baseline rallies. It sounds like a suicidal tactic, and the fact that Medvedev took a set and pushed hard in two others should tell you everything you need to know about how good the Russian is.

But still not as good as Djokovic – and on this surface, that gap should widen. One needs to be able to land big blows when playing against Djokovic, to be able to inject pace he can’t absorb, and Medvedev wasn’t hitting his backhand anywhere near well enough against Tsitsipas to be able to do that. If Djokovic plays a tidy match, and is as proactive about moving forward as he was against Fritz, he should be able to book his place in the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters once more, unless Medvedev can come up with something we’ve never seen from him before.

Djokovic vs Medvedev Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tennis is live on Friday at 12.30pm local/11.30am BST

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Djokovic vs Medvedev tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Djokovic faces rising Russian for Monte-Carlo Masters semifinal spot

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