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Medvedev’s gentle return to clay: we were there

Operated on for an inguinal hernia at the beginning of April, Daniil Medvedev experienced uneventful recovery and preparation. His short-term goals: consolidate the good impression left on clay at Roland-Garros 2021 and win three ATP titles on grass.

Daniil Medvedev and Gilles Cervara, 2022 Daniil Medvedev and Gilles Cervara, practicing at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, 2022

If we had told them that on April 2, when Daniil Medvedev announced that he had to have an inguinal hernia operation, his coach Gilles Cervara and his trainer Eric Hernandez would have signed immediately. “That” is a process of convalescence and preparation which then went off without a hitch, which will allow the world No 2 to approach the Geneva tournament (Tuesday against Richard Gasquet) and then Roland-Garros with the ambition of being worthy of his ranking, even if it would be simpler to say that it is a simple recovery.

“I have the impression that Daniil is coming back from vacation and no injury,” Gilles Cervara says with a smile. “So fluid and seamless has the process been. Each day, it was found that he could execute more things than the day before. The serve was the last shot to be tested. In the fourth week, we resumed normal training and a real preparation phase. ”

Daniil Medvedev and Gilles Cervara, Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, 2022
Daniil Medvedev and Gilles Cervara, Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, © Tennis Majors

Medvedev so far from the race for ATP No 1

Last week, Daniil Medvedev was able to indulge in 3.5 hour sessions, combining tennis and physical training. He returned to high-intensity tennis on the clay courts of the Mouratoglou Academy, against players like Holger Rune, Gianluga Mager, Elliott Benchetrit, Jules Marie or young players from the academy like the lefty Frenchman Pablo Trochu.

The day before leaving for his first tournament on the circuit since Miami, in Geneva, a weight training session revealed pain in his left foot, but the examinations invalidated any concerns.

While the specialized tennis media of which we are perpetually calculated under what conditions Medvedev could take over the ATP’s No 1 ranking from Novak Djokovic, the Russian lived his weeks light years away from these concerns. Until Friday, he was still in the running, and would have reclaimed the No 1 ranking if the Serb failed in Rome before the semi-finals, but he and his staff were unaware of it.

Daniil Medvedev’s fitness session (© Tennis Majors)

Medvedev, faced with the controversial ban on playing Wimbledon imposed on all Russian and Belarusian players, took advantage of these spring days away from the Tour to spend time with his parents, who live a few kilometres from the Mouratoglou academy, and to record a rap track with Denis Shapovalov.

Even if his recent pain-free training sessions require confirmation in a competitive situation, the Russian gave the impression of being able to be more philosophical and therefore effective with clay, which he explicitly cursed last year at the same time in Madrid (“Do you like it to be in the dirt like a dog?”), Rome (“disqualify me, it will be better for everyone”) or during UTS4 (“I suck on clay”).

He’s calmer on clay this year, it’s easier to train him.

Gilles Cervara

“He’s calmer this year, it’s easier to train him,” Cervara told us. “Daniil is aware that returning to clay forces him to be more tolerant. He releases a bit of pressure, therefore, even if he knows that this surface makes him less efficient against certain types of players.”

This did not prevent Medvedev from reaching the quarter-finals in Paris without losing a set and confirming the certainty of his staff that his tennis can be effective on the terre battue, provided that he does not put up a psychological barrier.

“Roland-Garros is an objective in itself, confirms Cervara. “We are going to Geneva to have as many benchmarks as possible given the situation. The idea is to do at least as well as last year.”

Daniil Medvedev and his fitness coach, at Mouratoglou Tennis Academy’s facility (© Tennis Majors)

Hoping for quick courts at Roland-Garros

The Russian’s staff appeared to us to be very receptive to the idea of ​​seeing Nadal, Djokovic, Alcaraz and Tsitsipas occupy the half of the draw opposite their charge.

Medvedev, meanwhile, will have an interested look at the weather, the key criterion for his good “Roland” in 2022.

The goal is to win the three grass-court tournaments he is entered in

Gilles Cervara

“Daniil is like Sampras. When he arrives in Paris, he hopes for dry weather so that the ball goes faster. A higher rebound makes their game more efficient,” says Cervara.

After the clay, despite the ban on playing Wimbledon, Medvedev will evolve as much as it is possible for him to play on grass. “The goal is to win the three grass-court tournaments he is entered in,” Cervara said. He has 1000 points to take from s’Hertogenbosch, Halle and Mallorca. The world No 1 should quickly return to the agenda.

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