With eyes on the trophy and No.1 ranking, Daniil Medvedev first needs to tackle bitter-rival Stefanos Tsitsipas

World No.2 Daniil Medvedev can be the No.1 player in men's tennis at the end of 2021 French Open. But first up, he needs to overcome the challenge rival Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals.

Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev

Despite a poor run on the clay ahead of the 2021 French Open, Daniil Medvedev has surprised one and all, and perhaps himself too in reaching the quarterfinals of Roland Garros. Coming into the high-octane event in Paris, the Russian was openly heard cussing the swearing on the surface. He even expressed his dislike for clay. Many experts even questioned if Medvedev deserved to be seeded No.2 at the French Open.

Now the 25-year-old will take on arch-rival Stefanos Tsitsipas in what promises to be a cracker of a quarterfinal in the night session of Paris, later in the evening. Surprisingly, Medvedev has only dropped one set en-route to the last eight. In his third round match, it was pleasing to see him beat clay specialist Cristian Garin in straight sets.

Besides a place in the semifinals, the World No.2 Medvedev also has another big incentive ahead of him. If he reaches the final and World No.1 Novak Djokovic does not make the championship match, the Russian will become the first player outside the Big Four (Rafael Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray) to reach the very top of men’s tennis.

It is also to be noted that if Medvedev wins his first Grand Slam title in Paris, he will move to World No. 1 regardless of Djokovic’s performance. Currently, the former US Open runner-up has 9793 points to his credit, as compared to the Serb who is sitting pretty with 11313 points. However, the 20-time Grand Slam winner made the finals of Roland Garros in 2020, and if he fails to match his performance in 2021, he will drop points. Hence giving the Russian a realistic chance to climb to the top. On 15 March, Medvedev moved to World No. 2 for the first time, overtaking the King of Clay.

Tsitsipas-Medvedev bitter rivalry

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev

It is pretty evident and visible that Medvedev and Tsitsipas don’t like each other. While the two respect each other’s game, they don’t see eye to eye, let alone being pally on and off the court. It all started with a post-match spat forcing the chair umpire to intervene as both players indulged in a verbal battle at the Miami Open in 2018. Since then, the relationship between the two players has been seen as a matter of intrigue on the ATP tour.

“It seems to me that we respect each other as tennis players, but not too much on a personal level,” Medvedev told Eurosport Russia.

“Our chemistry definitely isn’t the best hat you can find on the tour,” the Greek star had mentioned in London two years ago. Tsitsipas also described Medvedev’s playing style as “boring” sometime ago.

Meanwhile, despite their frosty relationship, their head-to-head battle has been one-sided in favour of the Russian. Medvedev has beaten Tsitsipas six times out of seven occasions. The only time the Greek got the better of the Russian was at the 2019 World Tour Finals in London. Interestingly, all their matches but for one have come on the hard court. Although they are yet to meet on the grass courts, they have played on the dirt before. There too, the current World No.2 prevailed over the World No.5.

Also read: French Open 2021: Alexander Zverev thrashes Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, reaches the semifinals for the first time in Paris