Daniil Medvedev was one of the first major rivals that Carlos Alcaraz encountered in his career. He happened on June 28, 2021 in the second round of Wimbledon. At that time, the 18-year-old Spaniard had only previously faced one rival in the Top 5 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings: Rafael Nadal in Madrid, that same season. And although he was defeated by Medvedev at the All England Tennis Club, Alcaraz left with the feeling of having taken five steps forward in his learning process.
This Friday, Alcaraz and Medvedev meet at the Nitto ATP Finals in a decisive match for the Spaniard (he will be in the semifinals if he wins, with his rival already qualified after beating Alexander Zverev on Wednesday night). Although only a little over two years have passed since that first match at Wimbledon, things have changed a lot for the 20-year-old: among many other achievements, he has become the youngest No. 1 in history and He has won two Grand Slams (Wimbledon and US Open), as well as four ATP Masters 1000.
Learning from that duel against one of the best, and on a great court (1 at Wimbledon), was a great boost for the Murcian, who learned and put into practice what he needed to improve.
“I have to learn to be more consistent because good players play all the points the same, at a very high intensity, and I have ups and downs,” Alcaraz said then, after being defeated by Medvedev. “Before going out on the track I was calm, but when I entered I got more nervous than normal. I had a hard time handling them in the first few games,” he continued.
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“In the end, everything makes you very nervous and that’s what happened to me. This is part of learning, playing in these types of stadiums are experiences that must be lived. Playing here is a giant step I have taken in my process. It will help me a lot in the future and the next time I play I will be able to approach it differently. “I’ll know what it’s like to go through this and I’ll know how to control my nerves better.”
“He is an incredible player,” praised Medvedev. “I am sure that Carlos will soon be in the Top 10. He is a very special tennis player who is playing his first matches in Grand Slam and winning in Australia and Roland Garros… In my first Grand Slam I did not win a single match” .
Medvedev was not wrong, far from it: Alcaraz rose quickly and broke the barrier of the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings (April 25, 2022) shortly before launching into competition for the most important titles on the ATP Tour.
The next time Alcaraz and Medvedev met, the Spaniard had already become No. 1, in addition to opening his Grand Slam trophies (US Open 2022). It was this year, in the final of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. And Alcaraz beat Medvedev, displaying an excellent tactical approach. The same thing happened months later, in the Wimbledon semifinals: another victory for the Spaniard in consecutive sets, and clearly, to then win the Wimbledon title from Novak Djokovic.
However, and as it could not be otherwise, Medvedev reacted in the next episode of the rivalry, which took place in the semifinals of the US Open 2023. There, the current No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings took the victory in four sets, making it 2-2 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series.
With both established at the top of the elite, without the differences that existed when they met for the first time at Wimbledon 2021, who will take the victory on Friday at the Pala Alpitour in Turin?
The post first appeared on www.atptour.com