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By Erik Gudris | Monday, July 3, 2017

A year ago, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev was ranked outside the top 200 and lost in the final round of qualifying at Wimbledon to Marcus Willis who became a feel good story for the home British fans. Now Medvedev is making a name for himself with a big upset win on his Centre Court debut.

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Medvedev knocked out No. 5 seed Stan Wawrinka in four sets 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 on Monday’s opening day at the All-England Club. The loss denies the recent French Open finalist any chance of winning Wimbledon for the first time or climbing to World No. 1.

“I’m just really happy. Wimbledon is my favorite slam,” Medvedev said post-match. “I was saying last year to my friends last year I was 215 in the rankings. If somebody told me that I would win but win on Centre Court I would say you are joking.”

Medvedev entered Wimbledon having surged into the ATP top 50 this year. That included good results in the grass court warm up events including reaching the Eastbourne semifinals. For Wawrinka, the Swiss star entered this first round match with a sore left knee and having lost in the first round at Wimbledon five times in his career.

Medvedev started strong in the opening set with big serves while taking even bigger cuts on both his groundstroke sides. After earning an early service break, the 21-year-old Russian went on to take the first set 6-4.

Wawrinka appeared to settle down in the second set and began to read the Russian’s serve better. Wawrinka, holding a break point, ran around his backhand to rip a forehand return winner off of a Medvedev kick serve.

Wawrinka, hitting with more power, eventually closed out the set 6-3.

But Wawrinka could not sustain his momentum. Meanwhile, Medvedev playing for the first time ever on Centre Court, did not seem overawed by the occasion or that he was playing a three time major champion.

Medvedev stuck to his game plan. But the Russian wasn’t just all about big serves and power. Medvedev showed great touch and variety from all sides of the court. 

Though Wawrinka would level the set at 3-all, the tide eventually turned in Medvedev’s favor. Wawrinka during a changeover saw both a doctor and trainer about his knee. The injury seemed to weigh on Wawrinka's mind as the set went on. Medvedev broke Wawrinka late in the set to secure a two sets to one lead.

By then, Wawrinka appeared to lose interest as Medvedev took control in the fourth set. Medvedev, first with a forehand winner to set up a break point, and then a fine backhand pass winner, leapt out to a 3-1 lead. Wawrinka’s level soon declined as he endured yet another service break a few games later.

Medvedev, now up 5-1, struggled to close out the match on his first two match points. But with a final big serve on his third match point, Medvedev secured the 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win.

“I played good (smiling),” Medvedev said when asked how he pulled of the upset. “I mean, I had a great grass court season so far.  I beat some guys. I was feeling confident.  I guess Stan had some problems before; he played only one match on grass, which he lost. I was looking forward to it, and I knew that if I played good I can make something. That's what happened.”

“Yeah, for sure, I wasn't feeling the way I wanted to feel,” Wawrinka said afterward about his knee and the match. “But play against a great player who I think was confident today, was playing well, was playing faster.  Was a tough loss.”

Medvedev will next face Ruben Bemelmens who defeated Tommy Haas in four sets.

(Photo Credit: Ashley Western/CameraSport)


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