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Rome champion Medvedev hails new strings as he heads to Roland-Garros in rare clay form

The Russian will be the No 2 seed at Roland-Garros, thanks to his first clay-court title


There are many things that contributed to Daniil Medvedev‘s return to top form in 2023 and most recently, his stunning victory at the Italian Open as he won his first clay-court title, beating Holger Rune in the final.

But as he let the joy of his Rome victory sink in, Medvedev pointed to one thing in particular.

“It’s not because I’m sponsored by Lacoste or Tecnifibre I’m going to say this,” he began. “I think strings help me, the new strings I try this year, because they are just softer so the ball goes easier.

“Straightaway in Australia actually where I lost, with my coach we were like, wow, I have the easy depth on the ball, which is amazing. In Australia, didn’t work. I was 100% doubting myself. Should I go back to the old ones, I was playing good with it? I said no, let’s try more. Now it’s unbelievable.”

“Draw is good, but better to play good yourself”

Mevdedev’s win in Rome means he rose to No 2 in the rankings on Monday, putting him as the No 2 seed for Roland-Garros.

Haing lost in the first round each year before reaching the quarter-finals in 2022, Medvedev is suddenly a live contender for the title in Paris, where there will be no 14-time champion Rafael Nadal and where Novak Djokovic will arrive having struggled for top form with a nagging elbow injury.

Carlos Alcaraz, the world No 1, will doubtless take some beating but Medvedev admitted being No 2 was an advantage, in theory.

“If I would be No 3, I would definitely play one of Alcaraz or Novak if I am in the semi-final. You definitely have one of them in your draw. I guess it’s better to be No 2 and get the chance. Carlos and I don’t play for sure before the final, and Novak maybe 50 percent chance he’s not in your draw. At the same time I haven’t been further than quarters in Roland Garros.

“Is always good to have a good draw, but it’s better to just play good and try to win it because I will be honest, when I saw my draw here, I think I was in the car, was it in Madrid or already here in Rome, I was with my wife, maybe one other tennis player or a friend, and I was looking at my draw. I was like, Wow, that must be the toughest draw I have ever seen for me.

“The draw is good, but it’s always better just to play good yourself.”

Improvement in movement on clay? Could it be the shoes?

Once all at sea on a clay-court, Medvedev looked at home in Rome, his movement vastly improved on recent years.

“About the movement, it’s either a practice or new shoes this year,” he said. “Maybe I’m feeling better with them. I managed to have time, I managed to move well and hit the deep ball. It sounds easy, but that’s the toughest part in tennis. You want to play deep and you miss. That’s what happened to me the previous years.

“Here this week I managed to do everything in my mind. I managed to make it real. That’s how I managed to win.”

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