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Djokovic vs Medvedev tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Medvedev reprise Monte Carlo win over Djokovic in Cincinnati?

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 17 Aug 2019
  • Novak Djokovic faces Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals of the Cincinnati Masters
  • Djokovic vs Medvedev is live from Cincinnati on Saturday at 6pm local/11pm BST
Novak Djokovic (PA Sports)

Daniil Medvedev beat Novak Djokovic in their last encounter – can the defending champion get revenge in the Cincinnati Masters semifinals?

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Novak Djokovic takes on the in-form Daniil Medvedev for a place in the Cincinnati Masters final.

Medvedev has won 14 of his last 17 matches on hard courts and the only players to beat him in that span have been Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios and Rafael Nadal – not a poor record, but although the Kyrgios match in the final of the Citi Open was close, he was beaten in very one-sided fashion by Federer and Nadal, getting six games against the one and just three against the other. In other words, the Russian is establishing himself as one of the hardest players to beat on hard courts for everybody but the Big Three. Can he prove that he’s a real challenge to the very best, too?

Djokovic in action (PA Sports)
Djokovic sat out the Canada Masters to get some more rest after winning his fifth Wimbledon title in dramatic style, saving match points to beat Federer, and his return to action in Cincinnati to defend his title has gone fairly smoothly. He hasn’t dropped a set so far in wins over Sam Querrey, Pablo Carreno Busta and Lucas Pouille, and although his win over Pouille wasn’t quite as crushing as the 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 thrashing he inflicted on the Frenchman at the Australian Open, it was a good victory over an opponent playing much better than he had done in their previous encounter. There was nothing to choose between them in the first set until the tie-break, when Djokovic zeroed in and Pouille, unsurprisingly, came apart; and the second set was thoroughly dominated by Djokovic.

‘I thought he played really well throughout the first set. We both held our service games quite comfortably until the tie-break and then I just stayed in there, very focussed, didn’t drop my level. He did,’ Djokovic said. 

‘[He] double faulted and missed a couple of forehands and obviously that cost him the tie-break.

‘The beginning of the second set I knew it was very important to try to break his serve right away and get into an advantage, which I did,’ Djokovic added. ‘I managed to finish off the match really well.’

The only slight note of concern was a trainer visit for Djokovic at 3-1 in the second set, with the physio seemingly working on his wrist, although it was later clarified that it was his elbow that was the problem.

‘I had some tightness, especially on my serve, and managed to finish the match which is great but the pain is there, so hopefully I'll have no pain tomorrow,’ Djokovic said.

It would be a shame if injury played a role in Saturday’s semifinal, because it could be a gripping encounter.

Daniil Medvedev (PA Sports)
Medvedev had never reached a Masters 1000 Series semifinal before this year’s Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, when he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas and Djokovic himself to do so before losing to Dusan Lajovic, but he has now made back-to-back Masters 1000 Series semifinals. Last week, he beat Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov on his way to finishing runner-up to Nadal in Montreal and, seemingly unbothered by the one-sided defeat he suffered, has brought that same form to Cincinnati. He has yet to drop a set in four matches and while both Kyle Edmund and Benoit Paire managed to push him past 5-5 in a set, neither of his more recent and supposedly more challenging opponents have managed it: He beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-2, 6-1 and Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-3.

The Struff and Rublev matches were similar in that, in each case, the opponent came into it having just upset a top player – Tsitsipas in Struff’s case, Federer’s in Rublev’s – with a brilliant display of attacking tennis, only to find themselves rendered toothless by Medvedev’s rather unique game. It’s difficult to describe how exactly he plays: He doesn’t lack power, but he relies on getting absolutely everything back, and does so with deep balls which are not easy to attack. The comparison has been frequently drawn between him and Gilles Simon, and like Simon, Medvedev seems to play better the better his opponent plays, feeding off their pace and drawing error after error from them.

Djokovic has similar – greater – defensive gifts, but he’s also developed a whole attacking game which Medvedev doesn’t really have in his arsenal right now. That’s why, when they met at the Australian Open, Medvedev opted to try to out-grind Djokovic. The mad thing is that it came closer to working than such a tactic ever should, with Medvedev arguably posing the sternest test of Djokovic’s entire Melbourne campaign.

After losing his first three matches against Djokovic, Medvedev finally got the win against the Serb when he beat him 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 on a very windy day at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters this spring, when he handled the conditions much better than Djokovic. Can he reproduce that win in Cincinnati?

‘Novak is Novak,’ Medvedev said. ‘There is actually nothing to say about him. Just huge respect.’

The conditions in Cincinnati will, obviously, not be as windy, and instead of a clay court it’s one of the faster hard courts around (so still slow). Under these circumstances I don’t see Medvedev having anywhere near the same kind of success at blunting Djokovic’s aggressive game, and if Djokovic serves well – which he did against Pouille – I’m not sure I see a way for Medvedev to get the win. The question mark is Djokovic’s elbow injury, but you have to believe that with the US Open around the corner, he won’t take the court unless he’s fit to play. If he does take the court, Djokovic should extend his winning streak to 11 matches and reach the Cincinnati Masters final for the seventh time.

Djokovic vs Medvedev tennis is live from Cincinnati on Saturday at 6pm local/11am BST

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Djokovic vs Medvedev tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Medvedev reprise Monte Carlo win over Djokovic in Cincinnati?

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