The last 20 years of professional tennis has been dominated by the “Big Three” of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic with 60 grand slams between them, it’s obviously pretty incredible. But eventually age has, or will, catch up with all of them, and the next generation will come through. One of the first players to truly break the Big Three mold has been Daniil Medvedev, a young Russian who does things his own way.
Medvedev shocked the world when he not only beat, but crushed, Novak Djokovic in the 2021 U.S. Open Final. It was the Russian’s third major final, and his first win. What really separates Medvedev from many of his young peers is his ability to perform both at the major level and at ATP tour events. He has also won four DANIIL MEDVEDEVMasters 1000 titles in his career and the ATP Year End Championships in 2020. There have been some players that have showed up for two weeks, but gone quiet for the rest of the year. Not Medvedev, and we will be seeing him on TV and on stadium courts for many years to come.
“Thank you all, guys, because your energy tonight gave me the win, because if you were not here, guys, I probably would lose the match,” Medvedev said. “Because I was so tired, I was cramping yesterday. It was so tough on me. So I want all of you to know when you sleep tonight, I won because of you.”
That’s what makes tennis so special, and as a coach, it’s why I’m so passionate about working with players of all ages and abilities. Yes, we have fundamentals that we would love to instill in you. But we all have different pathways toward our goals. Whether you are a baseline grinder or an aggressive serve and volley player, you can find the same results. Some of the best players of all time have grips, take-backs, and follow throughs that might be considered “wrong”. And while we would love to preach positivity and always maintaining a good outlook on the court, Medvedev has shown that just being honest with yourself and the crowd can be very effective. We all operate differently, physically and mentally.
The truth is, there is no wrong in tennis, and you should embrace playing your own way. As coaches, our goal should be to work with you to help make your strokes, tactics and mentality more effective. I hope to see more unorthodox players make their way to the top of the sport so that we can all understand that there is no one right way to play tennis.