August 1, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas or the praise of constancy

The performance of Daniil Medvedev on the Parisian clay would not perhaps get a 10/10 in artistic note but for a “Cow on an ice rink” (the image is of him), she deserves at least the encouragement of the jury. Until this edition of Roland-Garros, the Russian, 25, had not passed the slightest tour at Porte d’Auteuil in four participations. Allergic on the surface, which did not suit his physique or his atypical style of play, he thought.

Tuesday, June 8, the world No. 2 faced Stefanos Tsitsipas (No. 5) for a place in the last four of the Paris tournament, but the Greek brutally interrupted his budding romance with ocher (6-3, 7-6, 7-5).

For this first shock between heavyweights of the fortnight, the organizers had hoped for a derogation to anticipate one day the passage of the curfew at 11 p.m. – in vain. The two players were therefore forced to challenge each other in an open-air cauldron but deserted, without the slightest electricity in the air. The Russian tasted the punishment little: “It was definitely the game of the day. Roland-Garros therefore preferred Amazon to the public ”, He lamented after the fact, referring to the paid platform, which exclusively broadcasts evening sessions, new for this year.

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Truck noise

From the start of the match, Medvedev looked like a bad day. The sounds of a trolley echoing in the bays made it come off its hinges: ” What is this noise ? It’s Roland-Garros or a Futures tournament [la troisième division du circuit] ? », he complained to the referee, before berating the unfortunate employee.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, he did not let himself be distracted. In the nightly warmth of Central Court, the Greek was both the boss at the service (73% of points won on the first ball) and at the baseline, making speak his almost innate science of the earth. His favorite quote? Hers. “We must not wait for opportunities, we must create them”, he revealed this week. In the face of Medvedev, words were followed by deeds. Realistically, he raised his level of play when necessary, as in the tie-break of the second set and in the middle of the third set to get back to his opponent, who had stolen his face-off. All without ever panicking nor give the impression of overplaying.

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Between the two players, the opposition of styles is perfect: one (the Greek), backhand with one hand, esthete of the game and striker from baseline; the other, flat shots and a little academic technique, but who, like a good chess player, likes nothing more than getting into the brain of his opponent. “Daniil Medvedev wins ugly but wins a lot”, had once titled the New York Times, paraphrasing Brad Gilbert and his « winning ugly ».

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