Australian Open Mens 3r Preview Daniil Medvedev Vs David Goffin

Photo courtesy of wikipedia commons

Australian Open 3rd round, Daniil Medvedev (15) Vs David Goffin (21), Day 6, Melbourne arena, not before 12:30 pm.

In 2018, Daniil Medvedev (15) won the most matches on hard courts on the tour (won 37, lost 14), only his third season playing in ATP main draws, picking up titles in Sydney, Winston-Salom and Tokyo, the latter title won as a qualifier.

That run of form has flown over in the new year with Medvedev reaching the Brisbane final (lost to Nishikori) and reaching the third round in Melbourne.

His opponent David Goffin (21) is pretty skilled on hard courts, too. He’s been to the quarters in Melbourne (’17), made the semis in Cincy, Miami and Indian Wells, and 3 of his 4 career titles have come on hard (Moselle, Shenzen, Tokyo).

Like Medvedev has now, Goffin also had a buzz about him at various stages of his career, that buzz first generating when he reached the Roland Garros last 16 in ’12 as a qualifier and reaching its loudest point when he beat Nadal and Federer on his way to the ATP Finals ’17 (lost to Dimitrov).

Goffin has never really been able to take advantage of his momentum, being hit by unfortunate accidents (falling on the tarpaulin at the back of the court at Roland Garros ’17, hitting his eye with his racket at Rotterdam ’18) and injuries ( a right elbow injury forcing him to end his ’18 season after Shenzen).

Goffin is part of the cursed Nishikori-Dimitrov- Raonic generation who have not, for a host of reasons, broken through and replaced the generation above them in terms of grand slam wins and top rankings.

A decade ago, most people would have thought that the current top 3, Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer, aged 31, 32 and 37 respectively, would have been on their way out of the game, if not already retired, and Nishikori and co would have been at the top of the game.

That Nishikori generation is now in danger of being rammed off the side of the road by the one below of Medvedev, Zverev, Khachanov, Coric, Chung and Shapovalov, one of the deepest generations we’ve had in a while and all developing at steep, and perhaps alarming, for the likes of Goffin and Thiem, another member of an under-achieving generation, rates.

If Medvedev wins this Goffin match and makes the fourth round, that would be the 22 year old’s furthest stage in a slam reached and a further step in his generation’s progress above their elders and towards the top of the game.

Medvedev is a likely winner, too. In this match-up, Medvedev has the bigger serve, the flatter shots, and the more aggressive game which means his service games will be on his terms. He’ll have to serve incredibly well against Goffin, too- the Belgian was 2nd for return stats on the ATP tour in 2018.

That Goffin return gives him a good chance in this match, especially if he can put pressure on Medvedev, which his greater experience should allow him to do. Goffin also has just the game to exploit Medvedev’s height- the Belgian likes moving his opponent’s side to side and then either hitting the backhand down the line for a winner or moving forward to take the ball out the air.

Both these player’s hard court prowess and the fact their strengths negate each other’s weaknesses makes this match my pick of the day for this top half last 32 Australian Open meeting.

There’s a lot at stake- for Medvedev, his first round of 16 at a slam and keeping that momentum going; for Goffin getting his career back on track and some confidence.

There’s also something else to motivate these two, as if they needed it- a potential last 16 match versus Novak Djokovic where they could really test how far they have to go to move ahead of that generation and make the top of the game their own. In recent months, that shift, with Khachanov’s win over Djokovic in Paris and Zverev’s in London, has looked, for Medvedev’s generation, like it could get seismic, while for Goffin’s, it’s been dead in the water for some time. Just how close to an earthquake we are or whether there is life beneath the surface are two questions many of us would like answered, and finding out whether it will be Medvedev or Goffin asking the question will be very intriguing indeed.

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.
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