Daniil Medvedev’s backhand cross court is frightening but down the line he admits he purposely plays a slower ball, so is holding back on it holding him back against the best?

Daniil Medvedev’s game is fascinating to watch. Over the last twelve months the Russian has achieved some incredible feats on the tour.

Last year was full of plenty of highlights including titles in Shanghai and Cincinnati with his biggest moment being that final against Rafael Nadal in New York fighting back from the brink to force a fifth set which he sadly lost!

He didn’t have a great time in London going out in the round robin and an issue for me was his backhand which I wrote about and the link will be at the bottom of this piece as well as a piece about his backhand from him around the US Open.

I have said it is too guided and it was something that was put to him at the Australian Open where he crashed out to Stan Wawrinka.

This question was put to Daniil following his win against Frances Tiafoe.

When talking about his backhand with Mats Wilander on Eurosport against Tiafoe the Russian said:

Other than that (flat forehand crosscourt), I usually try and play a slow backhand to have an easy ball after where they will put up in the air (looped forehand)

A slow backhand or in other words guided. 

I understand what he meant because I watch a lot of him and for me a praise I and many have given is ruthlessness in his game. His backhand cross court is brutal, you don’t want to be on the end of it but holding back on the shot down the line for me is unusual. 

I understand that he is happy looking for that looped forehand return but against the best in these high pressure situations playing a shot which is inviting like this is a problem.

With all due respect it works against lower ranked players and he toyed with Tiafoe with it but against the best I feel like they have figured it out.

He lost all three in London, I wrote about how his backhand was problematic and will be an issue this year and in four sets Stan Wawrinka had it set. 

Dealing with cross-court backhand is tough but the down the line should be as tough if not tougher but it’s a bit of respite for the best.

Whether you are sending it down slow to Wawrinka, Federer or Djokovic’ forehand and Nadal’s two handed backhand it is coming back with more on.

Against Tiafoe the stats were:

10 backhands went cross-court from Medvedev over 75mph.
3 backhand went down the line from Medvedev over 75mph.
13 backhands went down the line around 65-75mph.
18 backhand went down the line under 65mph.

Thats a big problem when it comes to the best.

Does he change it up? No. Here are his winners against Wawrinka:


As you can see absolutely nothing happened down that wing from Medvedvev, only maybe one twice in the entire match did he win a backhand he sent down the line against a very good player like Stan.

I think he needs to be a little bit more ruthless going down the line, I felt like he should have beaten Stan and his time in London was cut short and players do figure things out!

Is holding back on his backhand holding him back in the big matches?

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