Daniil Medvedev might’ve hated the hard courts at Indian Wells before, but he definitely hates them now.
Midway through the second set during the Russian’s straight sets quarterfinal win over Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (6-3, 7-5), Medvedev tripped while recovering from a return and landed harshly on his thumb, breaking a nail.
The former world No.1 had to take an extended medical break to treat the injured thumb, telling the chair umpire he had “lost a nail”.
During the break, he could be overheard heard remarking on the speed of the courts, as close-ups on the television broadcast revealed significant bleeding from the impact of Medvedev’s thumb on the gritty hardcourts of Indian Wells.
The world number six from Russia showed little ill effect from the twisted ankle he suffered in a win over Alexander Zverev a day earlier.
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He raced through the opening set, a break of the Spaniard’s serve in the second game the only opening he needed as he lost just six points on his serve on the way to pocketing the set in 39 minutes.
“I’m actually happy the ankle didn’t hurt much because when I warmed up it was hurting pretty bad and I was like ‘I knew I’m going to play, I knew I’m going to try,’ but I couldn’t move well on the warm-up,” Medvedev said.
“I tried to warm it up as long as possible and take one painkiller so that probably helped and I was actually feeling better and better during the match,” added the former US Open champion.
It was a different story in the second set on a windy Stadium Court.
Davidovich Fokina had a break chance in each of Medvedev’s first three service games, only for the Russian to come up with big serves to fend him off.
Frustrating Davidovich Fokina from the baseline, Medvedev pounced at the Spaniard’s first sign of weakness in the set, breaking him to love and quickly serving out the match – sealing it with a service winner.
Medvedev – who is coming off titles in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai in the three weeks leading into Indian Wells – now has two days off before he faces American Frances Tiafoe in the semi-final.
During treatment for the broken nail, Medvedev, who has been openly critical of the relatively slow hard courts at Indian Wells, was heard muttering about the speed of the court, with Nick Lester on Prime Video saying “just overheard Medvedev again having a go at the court speed”.
Daniil Medvedev has made no secret of his antipathy for the slow hard courts of Indian Wells, but the Russian admitted on Tuesday he’d do better to avoid vocally venting his frustration in every match.
“I do think it actually distracts me, and I would be better just shutting up and playing,” Medvedev said after beating Alexander Zverev 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 in a wild fourth-round match in which he won the second set despite a badly twisted ankle and 10 break chances for his opponent.
The injury may also have helped break his fixation on the speed of the courts, which he has railed against all week – and in editions past.
For the second straight match he threatened to take a bathroom break “as slow as the court” as he ranted on a changeover.
“What a shame to call this awful court hard court,” he fumed from his chair.
“It’s a disgrace to sport this court.” Medvedev said he knows reining in such displays is what he “should do,” but he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to bottle it up entirely.
“This high-intensity sport where you are one-on-one against the opponent brings the heat out of you,” he said.
“Some players are capable of controlling it better than the others. Some are controlling it less, like me. That’s my character and that’s my personality.”
Medvedev said he had no interest in banding with other players to try and force a change in the playing surface.
“I understand that maybe out of 96 players, actually 60 are going to say the court is fine. That’s just my problem.”
He said he’ll keep working to limit the on-court histrionics “because I want to be remembered not definitely for my tantrums but more for my game and for my good parts of my personality.”
The courts at Indian Wells are notably slower this year, with commentator Rob Koenig pointing out that HawkEye data demonstrated this year’s surface was even slower than the clay courts of Roland-Garros.
Medvedev’s average first serve speed at contact was 201km/h at last year’s Indian Wells Masters, and 199km/h this year.
Medvedev’s average speed on return was 69km/h last year, but this year it is an extraordinary 51km/h.
For comparison, the French Open is played on clay, typically the slowest surface in tennis, and at last year’s tournament, Medvedev’s average speed on return was 54km/h.
– with AFP