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Medvedev vs Lajovic ATP Monte Carlo Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Maiden Masters 1000 final on the line as Medvedev takes on Lajovic in Monte Carlo

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 20 Apr 2019
  • Daniil Medvedev vs Dusan Lajovic is live from Monte Carlo on Saturday, 20 April from 1:30pm local time/ 12:30pm BST
  • Medvedev won their only previous meeting in Moscow last season
Daniil Medvedev

A maiden Masters 1000 final will be on the line when Daniil Medvedev and Dusan Lajovic go head-to-head in Monte Carlo on Saturday.

Who would have thought that in a half of a draw comprising world No. 1, Novak Djokovic and Indian Wells champion, Dominic Thiem, it would be Medvedev and Lajovic to emerge as semi-finalists? Not many, I suppose!

It has been a sensational week for both men in the Principality, and it's just about to get even better for one of them.

Medvedev arrived Monte Carlo with just two career wins on clay, but he has turned his fortunes on the surface around in spectacular fashion.

His first two opponents, Joao Sousa and Radu Albot are useful players on clay, and were supposed to cause the clay-averse Medvedev plenty of problems, but the Russian swatted them away for the loss of just five games combined- 6-1 6-1 against Sousa, and 6-1 6-2 against Albot.

He then overcame a second set wobble to take out last year's Barcelona finalist, Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2 1-6 6-4 in the third round to record just his second victory over a player ranked in the top-ten, before pulling off the biggest win of his career in the quarter finals, ousting world No. 1, Novak Djokovic 6-3 4-6 6-2.

A confident Medvedev broke twice en route taking the first set, but Djokovic came roaring back in the second, cutting down the unforced errors and altering his tactics by repeatedly pulling Medvedev off his comfort zone of the baseline with well-executed drop shots. A solitary break in the third game of the set was enough for the Serbian to push the match into a decider.

Undeterred by that setback, Medvedev played a composed deciding set, staying rock solid from the back of the court as Djokovic disintegrated at the other end. In all honesty, the Serbian not at his brilliant best, but part of that was due to Medvedev's performance. The 22-year-old faltered when he had the opportunity to serve out the match at 5-1, but he broke for victory in the next game, confirming the win with a stylish inside-out backhand winner after two hours and 22 minutes.

“It's definitely the best match of my career. Not in terms of level of tennis, but definitely by the result. [It's my] first Masters 1000 semi-final, beating No. 1 for the first time in my life," Medvedev said. "[It's] just amazing."

With his 21-6 record for the season, Medvedev leads the tour in number of match wins in 2019, and will attempt to reach his third final of the season on Saturday. He's already won a title in Sofia, taking his tour-level tally up to four, while he made another final in Brisbane in his first tournament of the year. Elsewhere, he reached the semi-finals in Rotterdam and the fourth round of the Australian Open,  where he fell to Djokovic in four sets.

He had a bit of a lull at Indian Wells and Miami, going 3-2 at the Masters 1000 tournaments, but he has returned with a big bang in Monte Carlo, advancing to his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final. The Russian is projected to reach a new career-high ranking of 13th by virtue of this Monte Carlo run, and should he go on to win the title, he will break into the top ten for the first time.

Medvedev's run has been a surprise, especially given his previous record on clay, but Dusan Lajovic's Monte Carlo performance dwarfs the Russia's achievement on the surprise-scale.

Medvedev, at least, had shown some very good form earlier in the year, but Lajovic had had an ordinary campaign, and only recently snapped out of a six-match losing streak. He had opened his season with a quarter-final in Doha in January, but he did not win again until Indian Wells in March, beating Taro Daniel before falling to Marin Cilic. He went one round better in Miami, taking out Pablo Cuevas and Kei Nishikori to reach the third round, where he was stopped by Nick Kyrgios. He has accelerated in Monte Carlo.

Lajovic has powered through the draw without losing a set, beating Malek Jaziri, David Goffin, Dominic Thiem and Lorenzo Sonego in a quite incredible run. It would have been easy for the Serbian to suffer some sort of hangover after his third-round victory over Dominic Thiem- the biggest win of his career- but he backed it up superbly by beating qualifier, Sonego, who was also in the midst of a sensational run of his own.

Lajovic was always a step ahead of Sonego in a hard-fought contest- he played the big points better, saving three of four break points, one of which was a set point in the second set, while he converted three of his own four opportunities to come away with the 6-4 7-5 victory after an hour and 47 minutes.

“Right now it’s a relief and I showed to myself that I could do it. The tournament is still not over but I’m extremely happy and satisfied with the way I’ve played this week," Lajovic said. "To be in the semi-finals of a Masters [1000], such a strong tournament, it’s really a big boost of confidence and I hope that it’s not the only one for the future."

World No. 48, Lajovic is set to enjoy a boost in his ranking, as he is projected to rise as high as 32nd regardless of the outcome of Saturday's semi-final against Medvedev.

Medvedev eased to a 6-2 6-1 victory in their only previous meeting in Moscow last season, but on the clay of Monte Carlo, Lajovic will surely push him harder. Lajovic looks more adapted to this surface, with the shape on his groundstrokes and his movement through the clay, but Medvedev's unorthodox style has proven to be very effective over the last year. 

He is most comfortable around the baseline, employing his surprisingly good lateral movement and long wingspan to get plenty of balls back. He’s also got serious weapons in his serve and groundstrokes, as he can generate tremendous pace off the ground. I don't think Lajovic can outslug him from the back of the court- the Serbian has got to be aggressive and move forward to finish off points, while he must also keep Medvedev off balance by dragging him off the baseline with periodic drop shots. He has got the hand skills to pull that off.

That said, Medvedev goes in as the favourite. He has got a style unique to him, and while it may not be the most aesthetic, it has certainly been getting the job done, which could again be the case on Saturday.

Daniil Medvedev vs Dusan Lajovic is live from Monte Carlo on Saturday, 20 April from 1:30pm local time/ 12:30pm BST

*Geo-restrictions apply. Streams available to customers with an active balance 

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Medvedev vs Lajovic ATP Monte Carlo Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Maiden Masters 1000 final on the line as Medvedev takes on Lajovic in Monte Carlo

Daniil Medvedev and Dusan Lajovic will go head-to-head in Monte Carlo on Saturday, with a maiden Masters 1000 spot up for grabs. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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