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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday May 31, 2020

Daniil Medvedev, clay guru? Maybe it’s too soon to say that but the Russian has done a complete about face in the last two weeks, going from a disgruntled, out-of-sorts player who liked playing clay-court tennis to being a “dog in the dirt” to a hopeful, in-form threat that loves the conditions in Paris.

On Monday he won for the first time at Roland-Garros, ending a stretch of four consecutive losses on the terre battue.

Tennis Express

How has he done it? The balls!

Medvedev spoke about the lighter balls in use at Roland-Garros at his pre-tournament press conference, saying that he was practicing far better than expected.

On Monday, after his 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Alexander Bublik, the No.2 seed elaborated further on what he likes so much about the conditions at Roland-Garros this year.

He says he was practicing at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy where he played the Ultimate Tennis Showdown last week, and could barely put the ball in the court, but when he got to Paris, everything changed.

“Actually UTS where I was practicing, I felt that I recovered from COVID completely, so I was practicing like crazy, a lot of hours,” he said. “I just couldn't make shots work. I was really, I would say, disgusting feeling. As soon as I came here these balls are much lighter, they go faster in the air, so that's why I can make them also drop faster before the baseline and stuff like this.”

Medvedev says the new balls allow him to hit his targets much better.

“I did 16 unforced errors today, 4 of them were double-faults, so it's 12 [in total],” he said. This is a huge statistic. This is how I can make damage in slams and can win great tournaments.”

It will be interesting to see if Medvedev, considered an afterthought in the bottom half of the draw after going 1-2 at Madrid and Rome this year (he entered the week with a record of 11-20 on clay), will be able to continue to progress through the draw. He will face American Tommy Paul in the second round.

In his post-match press conference, Medvedev hinted that confidence, or frustration with the clay surface, will not be an issue.

“I feel really hopeful,” he said. “As I say, you could see it today in the match, I'm feeling that here, at least this year with this weather, with these balls, I can play like on hard courts. It doesn't feel different than Australian Open for me coming into this tournament.

“If I lose here in Roland Garros it's probably going to be because my opponent will play really good. As I said, I feel very confident, I move well, slide well. You could see I think he made maybe only one maybe dropshot winner. So I'm feeling great.”


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