Daniil Medvedev he has an enviable list of accomplishments in his career – a major title (no less in the Big Three era), three other Grand Slam finals appearances, and 16 weeks last year at No. 1 in the world. However, most of his success came on hard court, leading many to wonder if he is a surface specialist.
Going into the Italian Open this year, he has had 32 career titles to his name, with the only title not on hard court coming on grass in Mallorca in 2021. Thus, despite the third seed in Rome, he was not the favorite for the clay event – he never advanced beyond the second round in his previous attempts.
But that all changed on Sunday when the 27-year-old won the Italian Open title with a 7-5, 7-5 over Holger Rune In finale. Medvedev surprised many people with his result, including himself.
“This one is special because I didn’t think it would work,” Medvedev said after the match. “I’m still a bit disbelieving – not that I won, but I played so well this week. I do not believe that”.
However, he did not respond to the reporter’s proposal for a new pseudonym “Clay-Vedev”.
Medvedev dropped only one set in his entire run to the trophy and recorded several uneven wins, including an over-two French Open semi-finalist Alexander Zverev in the 1/8 finals and finalist of the French Open 2021 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-final. While the score over Tsitsipas was impressive, it was his epic memory and revenge dance after the match that really lit up the internet:
Cincinnati 2022: Tsitsipas beats Medvedev and does a victory dance
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 20, 2023
With the win Medvedev moved up to 2nd place in this week’s rankingand will be on the opposite side of the draw at the French Open from #1 Carlos Alcaraz, which has now taken the top spot – No. 3 Novak Djokovic.
What else happened this week in tennis? Well, quite a lot:
Further growth of Rybakina
While the women’s draw was — once again – harassed by accusations of unfair treatment, including a surprising start time of 23:00 for the final on Saturday due to rain, Elena Rybakina she remained unfazed and won her biggest title on clay of her career. The 23-year-old won the trophy later Angelina Kalinina he was forced to withdraw in the second set due to a leg injury.
Kalinina’s mid-match retirement was indicative of Rybakina’s performance in the tournament: she was the third of Rybakina’s six opponents to be unable to finish the match due to injury. But despite this coincidence, which Rybakina later called “really strange”, Rybakina dominated when she was allowed to act. She recorded a 2-6, 7-6(3), 2-2 win over world No. 1 Every Christmas in the quarter-finals before Świątek was eliminated due to a thigh injury and a knockout 6-2, 6-4 victory over the 2017 French Open champion Elena Ostapenko in the semi-final.
following a disorganized and controversial trophy ceremony (Yes, Again), Which Rennae Stubbs called “worst trophy presentation i have ever seen in my lifeRybakina seemed optimistic about her chances in Paris. “I hope to go far at the French Open,” she said. “I have good memories of playing there. Now I have more matches on clay, so it’s a little easier and (I have) definitely more confidence. Yes, for me, as I always say, it’s important to be healthy, to be physically fit, then I hope I can go far.
Rybakina, who scored no points for her Wimbledon title last summer, is currently ranked 4th in her career. Next to Świątek and Aryna Sabalenka, it looks like there may be a new Big Three in tennis. Combined, the trio won the last four majors and three of the five 1000-tier titles this year. Sabalenka defeated Swiatek for the title at the Madrid Open, the second 1,000-level clay tournament, last month.
For several years, or at least since then Serena Williams went on maternity leave in 2017, the WTA struggled to stay on top, but now there seem to be at least three players who can challenge for titles week after week and on any surface. And now, with uncertainty about Świątek’s injury, Sabalenka has a chance to overtake Świątek for the first place in the rankings after the French Open.
End of an era
After weeks of speculation and an almost obsessive following of his social media accounts, the 14-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal confirmed wouldn’t play in the upcoming main event due to a lingering hip injury sustained in January at the Australian Open. This will be his first absence from the event since 2004 – and the first French Open staging in 25 (!) years in which he is absent. Roger Federer in the draw.
Despite the record number of titles and the fact that there is a huge statue of him on the grounds, Nadal spoke matter-of-factly about his absence at a press conference with reporters at his academy in Mallorca, Spain, on Thursday.
Rafael Nadal drops out of the French Open, notes that next year could be his last
Rafael Nadal announces he will miss the French Open due to a hip injury and wonders what his future could be.
“Tournaments stay forever; players play and leave,” said Nadal. “So Roland Garros will always be Roland Garros, with or without me, no doubt. The tournament will continue to be the best event in the world of clay and there will be a new Roland Garros champion – and it’s not going to be me. And that’s life.”
The 36-year-old, who will drop out of the top 100 for the first time since 2003, also revealed he believes the 2024 season will be his last on the road. It’s hard to imagine the professional tennis landscape without Nadal, Federer or Williams, but it looks like this will soon become our reality.
He still said he wasn’t sure when exactly he would be able to return to competition, although he assumed it would be a few months and seemed determined to end his legendary career on his terms.
“I don’t like the word, but I feel strong enough to say it: I don’t think I deserve an end like this,” said Nadal. “I’ve worked hard enough throughout my career that my end isn’t at a press conference.”
More trouble for Halep
It was a tough time for the two-time major champion Simona Halep. In October, it emerged that she had failed a doping test at the US Open and now, after months of acquittals, the former world No. 1 has been charged with a second doping offense for irregularities in her athlete’s biological passport.
The – informed the International Agency for Tennis Integrity the last allegation “was based on an assessment” of the biological profile of Halep’s passport by a panel of experts. Halep immediately took to social media on Friday to dispute the latest allegations and called the experience “the worst nightmare I’ve ever been through in my life.”
“Not only has my name been tarnished in the worst possible way, but I am faced with the continued determination of the ITIA for reasons I cannot understand to prove my guilt when I have NEVER thought of taking any illegal substance,” Halep wrote.
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) May 19, 2023
Halep claimed the new charge was the result of “contamination” and concluded by expressing her hope of being able to prove her innocence.
Halep’s former coach Darren Cahill and her current coach Patrick Mouratoglou expressed their support for her shortly after the news was announced. Cahill said his faith in her is “unwavering” and Mouratoglou said “there’s no way she’s ever done anything illegal.”
A hearing was reportedly scheduled for the end of the month, but Halep said ITIA had requested a delay. In Monday’s postHalep claimed that the organization had done so for the third time.
“ITIA publicly states one thing and privately does another,” Halep wrote. “I have repeatedly asked for a hearing and ITIA has repeatedly tried to delay it.”
ITIA responded to Halep’s allegations on Tuesday morning and confirmed that the hearing was adjourned.
“We have proposed that both charges be dealt with together to avoid multiple hearings. To that end, we want to give all parties (including the independent tribunal) sufficient time to consider the relevant material related to the latest allegation.”
Over the weekend in Orlando, Florida, the NCAA crowned the national champions of its men’s and women’s teams. The Virginia men’s team defeated Ohio State for a second consecutive title and sixth overall, while the North Carolina women’s program won its first-ever NCAA team title by defeating ACC rival North Carolina.
Tar Heels reaction after second grade Carson Tanguilig won, said it all:
It’s a moment 🤗🤗🤗 pic.twitter.com/J5QFTmrNl4
— NCAA Tennis (@NCAATennis) May 21, 2023
The NCAA singles and doubles tournament is currently underway for individual titles, and there’s more on the line than just an amazing trophy and a future LinkedIn post. If they represent the United States, the champions from those draws receive a wild card into the US Open.
Events this week:
French Open Qualification
Gonet Geneva Open, Geneva, Switzerland (250)
Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon, Lyon, France (250)
Strasbourg International, Strasbourg, France (250)
Grand Prix of Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem, Rabat, Morocco (250)