Daniil Medvedev was not intimidated by American Riley Opelka and serving, as he had the upper hand in two sets 6-4 6-3 to win the National Bank Open title on Sunday in Toronto.
The Russian, who was the favorite in this competition thanks to his second place in the ATP rankings, gave himself seven chances to smash his 6’11” opponent. One break in the first round, then two in the second, was enough to defeat the number 32 racket in the world. Opelka has only lost the service twice in five duels since the start of the week.
The duo crossed with swords for the fifth time in the ATP, and Medvedev had the upper hand four times. The situation could have been a lot different, as Medvedev saved two break points in his second match on serve.
“It wasn’t easy at first because I played three matches [en soirée]After his match, Medvedev argued, on the broadcast waves of TVA Sports. This was in the middle of the day with sun and wind. I wasn’t satisfied at first, especially with the service. The ratio was not there.”
But just as he did against John Isner, the champ literally followed his game plan and that discipline paid off.
“I stood at the back of the field. Basically, I was playing well. That’s what allowed me to press him all the time and bring the balls back. That’s the most important thing against this type of player. That’s why I was able to win.”
Do his best
This is the 25-year-old’s fourth Masters 1000 victory after triumphs in Cincinnati and Shanghai in 2019, and then in Paris in 2020. Overall, this is his twelfth win on the ATP circuit. He reached the final in 2019 in Montreal, but Rafael Nadal has the last word.
He will now head to Cincinnati with confidence, leading the US Open on August 30. However, he refuses to put too much pressure on himself.
“No, I’m not setting a target,” Medvedev said. I just want to play well and win every tournament I play; This is the goal. But we know it’s almost impossible. Until Novak [Djokovic] He has yet to run an undefeated season. I just want to play well in Cincinnati, and then at the US Open, the main goal is to get a good result.”
Opelka continues to grow
Riley Opelka didn’t make a dramatic entry into the world of tennis as he did with some players like Denis Shapovalov in Montreal, in 2017, when he knocked out Rafael Nadal to reach the cup semi-finals. Rogers, but the American came on his way, in his own way, to reach his first Masters 1000 Series final, at the National Bank Open in Toronto.
If the 23-year-old did not achieve the desired result in the final, he nonetheless learned several important lessons for the rest of his career.
“I learned several things about myself. I learned to be different [entre une victoire et une défaite] “It can be so small that you just have to remain optimistic,” the 6’11 Giant said in a press conference after the final against Daniil Medvedev.
I played against Lloyd Harris [durant les huitièmes de finale] Several days ago. He managed the ball very well, played very well, and never missed a ball. I could have lost that game and still had a good week, but I kept my focus, stayed upbeat and pulled in some big shots. I won this duel, and then I was defeated [Roberto Bautista-Agut] And [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, and suddenly a week becomes longer.
“This week is a great example that using that optimistic mindset can lengthen a few weeks, even if it’s only for one or two championships a year. Look at the effect this has on my ranking. That’s all it takes.”
Since October 2019, Opelkas have mostly sailed between 30 and 40 in the world. In the next ranking update, his score in Toronto will allow him to establish the best career performance. The American will drop from 32nd to 23rd.
There is still room for improvement
Despite having the best of his career, Opelka is already looking ahead as the Cincinnati Championships and US Open approach, with the first two kicking off on Monday.
“Our sport is unforgivable,” Opelka added. It’s hard to get good results every week. The Big Three [Djokovic, Nadal et Federer] I did it very well, but it is not easy to do. I don’t have a lot of expectations in Cincinnati, but I will focus a lot on the US Open to do my best.”
“Everyone is good. My matches are very close and I lost many of them. They are the good and the bad sides of my game. I can be 6-6 in the third set against Medvedev, which I have done several times, but I can also be 6-6 in the third against a player Off the top. 100. It’s the worst part of my game, and the level of play between me and the others is low. It’s really small for anyone in general, but in my case it’s always limited by a few points.”
Opelka will start her journey in Cincinnati on Tuesday against France’s Corentin Mutier.
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