Daniil Medvedev was aiming for his second major title and first Down Under this fortnight. Instead, he will leave the Australian Open with disappointment for a third straight year.
After almost tasting victory a year ago in Melbourne, before Rafael Nadal’s epic comeback, Medvedev won’t see the second week of this year’s tournament after Sebastian Korda upset the seventh seed 7-6(7), 6-3, 7-6(4) on Friday.
Despite the disappointment of an early round straight-sets defeat, Medvedev gave a clear cut answer explaining the loss.
“I think it was a match where he was just better than me,” Medvedev said in his post-match press conference. “Right now I’m struggling a little bit to win these kinds of matches against opponents that can play at a good level. That’s what I have to find back.”
Nearly 11 months ago, Medvedev rose to World No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings shortly after finishing runner-up at the 2022 Australian Open. This year’s result in Melbourne means a far different outcome for Medvedev’s ranking. Friday’s third-round defeat means the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals champion will crash out of the Top 10 for the first time since July 2019.
Despite not getting past the fourth round in his past three Slam appearances (Australian Open, US Open, Roland Garros) and collecting just two Tour-level titles in 2022 (Los Cabos, Vienna), Medvedev is hungry to find answers to help lift him towards contending for the game’s most prestigious titles again. The 26-year-old also suffered a trio of tight three-set defeats at the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals. But he’s not giving up hope.
“My shots are there, I’m doing the right thing,” Medvedev said. “Today was a little bit different where he was on top of me all the time and I was trying to come back every set, trying to fight, trying to be there.
“That’s why tennis is so tough because in the Top 30 everyone can beat everybody. Of course, the Top 10 are more consistent, and that’s why I’m dropping down a little bit now but everyone can beat everybody.”
Although Medvedev had won his previous meeting with Korda at the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters, the American brought a different level today, firing his all-court game from every corner of the court. The 22-year-old produced consistent depth and often worked his way forward to test Medvedev’s deep court positioning.
Medvedev isn’t the only one to notice great potential in the young American Korda. In the first week of the season, Novak Djokovic fended off a championship point to defeat the Florida native and win the Adelaide International 1. The 92-time Tour-level titlist said Korda has, ‘beautiful-looking tennis’. The 2021 US Open champion Medvedev also praised Korda following their contest on Rod Laver Arena, revealing that his style of play reminds him of the man who beat Korda in Adelaide a couple weeks ago.
“The most difficult thing is that he hits the ball very strong. Probably one of the strongest hitters,” Medvedev said. “Also takes [the ball] very early. There are some other guys playing like this, but they miss more than him. And he didn’t miss that much.
“His game is kind of different from everybody because he’s very aggressive and takes the ball very early. A little bit maybe like Novak.”
Medevdev, who drops to No. 12 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, was aiming to become the fourth man in the Open Era to reach three consecutive Australian Open finals. The 15-time Tour-level titlist will instead have a few weeks off from competition before his next event, the ATP 500 event in Rotterdam, which runs from 13-19 February.