Mats Wilander recently emphasized that he is not a big fan of Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev getting friendlier to the point of practicing with each other regularly. The Swede believes that their relationship has not only watered down their on-court rivalry, but is also more beneficial for Djokovic in the long run.
Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev have formed one of the most intriguing rivalries in tennis in recent years. While the Serb has the upper hand over Medvedev, given he leads the latter by a margin of 6-4 in the head-to-head, the Russian has shown he has it in him to topple the World No. 1.
Tennis rivalries often come with a lot of tension, excitement, and fervor. This was the case with the rivalries between Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic for large parts of their career.
But the same cannot be said of the rivalry between Djokovic and Medvedev. The Russian has always looked up to Djokovic as a player and as a person, making it a point to praise Djokovic whenever he has the opportunity.
The two are on friendly terms and have of late started practicing together as well. Medvedev and Djokovic traded hits ahead of the Paris Masters and did the same once they reached Turin for the ATP Finals.
Speaking to Eurosport, Mats Wilander sounded skeptical about the growing friendship between Djokovic and Medvedev.
“I am not sure I necessarily like that Novak and Daniill are hanging out and practicing together,” said the Swede.
Wilander said that he would like to see more “fireworks” between the two, given how some of their biggest matches lacked the sense of them being rivals.
“I like to see a little more fireworks between them because there were no fireworks at the US Open in the finals, there were no fireworks in Melbourne in the [Australian] Open final,” Wilander added.
The seven-time Grand Slam champion reckons that the relationship, and more so the frequent training sessions between Djokovic and Medvedev, are more commensalistic in favor of the Serb.
“I think this [relationship] is great for Novak in the long run,” Wilander stated. “Novak learns a lot about his opponents by practicing with them, and I think Daniil is going to learn that Novak is the greatest player of all time by practicing with him. So I think it can only help Novak.”
Having said that, the former world no.1 opined that Medvedev has cemented his place in the upper echelon of men’s tennis and predicted that the Russian would likely dominate the tour in the coming years provided he remains fit.
“I think Daniil Medvedev has arrived,” Wilander said. “He’s going to be at the top of the game for the next five or six years, if nothing physical happens to him.”
The 57-year-old observed how Medvedev usually has to play long rallies in his return games and shorter ones on his serve due to his ability to win cheap points on his delivery.
“He runs so far, he moves so well and he has to play a lot of long points from the baseline. Of course when he serves well, those points are short, but otherwise in return games he plays long points.”
Daniil Medvedev kicks off his ATP Finals campaign on Sunday, Novak Djokovic to take to the courts on Monday
World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev will face Hubert Hurkacz in his first round-robin match on Sunday. Five-time champion Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, will feature on Monday when he takes on Casper Ruud.
Djokovic and Medvedev have been drawn in separate groups owing to their No. 1 and No. 2 rankings. They are likely to meet in the semifinals, if one of them tops their group while the other comes second.
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However, if both Medvedev and Djokovic top their respective groups, they will not meet before the finals, provided they win their last-four encounters.