Why does Djokovic struggle against Medvedev?

socallefty

G.O.A.T.
While Djokovic still has a compelling head-head lead against Medvedev, they usually have close matches and Medvedev obviously beat him in a Slam final at the 2021USO also. What are the reasons that Medvedev bothers Djokovic more than other players particularly on hard courts?

What I notice is the following:

  • Medvedev at this point has a better BH than Djokovic and wins more BH-BH rallies against him and all other players. Djokovic refuses to accept this and keeps trying to have long rallies on the BH wing like he does against other players
  • Djokovic varies between playing aggressively and counterpunching more passively in Bestof5 matches to preserve his energy. Against other players he wins the majority of points even counterpunching and he often does that with a lead. Medvedev has such good shot tolerance that he forces Djokovic to play more in top gear to have an edge and Djokovic can’t mentally relax and play passively much even when ahead.
  • Medvedev serves huge when he gets a break up in a set including on 2nd serves and takes the racquet out of Djokovic’s hands on return games more easily than others. When Med gets a break, he doesn’t allow Djokovic to break back as often.
  • Djokovic has been effective coming to net to keep points short in some Bestof3 matches - can he keep that up over 5 sets as this is more explosive movement for his aging legs?
  • Medvedev has good physical endurance and can play well in long rallies and long matches

Medvedev doesn’t have a good record in 5-set matches unlike Djokovic and I wonder if this could be the difference on Sunday.

Rafa does better against Medvedev and Djokovic also blew him out in the 2021AO final. Are these lessons that Djokovic can use to come up with a good game plan for Sunday?
 
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daggerman

Hall of Fame
Nice analysis! I mostly agree with everything, but I see their BH-BH exchanges a little differently. I think Djokovic very much accepts that he's unlikely to make much progress in crosscourt BH-BH exchanges, which is why he's usually the player who changes pattern by redirecting down the line or hitting a drop shot. But because Medvedev's stock CC backhand has that weird side spin that tails off the court, Novak generally plays his DTL backhand really safe to a central-ish location that Medvedev usually has no problem redirecting cross court with his forehand. And from there Novak often either gets impatient and tries to go for too much or Medvedev's CC forehand is placed well enough to put Novak in a defensive position.

And because of the unique trajectory of Medvedev's backhand, it's really challenging for players to hit forehands from their backhand corner against him without leaving a ton of court open. Alcaraz experienced this last night.

IMO Novak should actually be more patient in BH-BH exchanges and force Medvedev to change direction. Medvedev has gotten better at placing his DTL backhand, but it's not hit with a lot of pace. For Novak I like patterns where he's hitting cross court forehands to move Medvedev off the court, then attacking into open space and coming to net. Of course, Medvedev's running CC forehand has gotten pacier and is pretty hard to handle due to that and its low net clearance, but I think Novak's generally faring better when he's hitting forehands to move Medvedev than when he's hitting backhands.
 
usually djokovic is the control and his opponents are the beatdown

he is less comfortable when the roles are reversed (as with med)

 

socallefty

G.O.A.T.
Nice analysis! I mostly agree with everything, but I see their BH-BH exchanges a little differently. I think Djokovic very much accepts that he's unlikely to make much progress in crosscourt BH-BH exchanges, which is why he's usually the player who changes pattern by redirecting down the line or hitting a drop shot. But because Medvedev's stock CC backhand has that weird side spin that tails off the court, Novak generally plays his DTL backhand really safe to a central-ish location that Medvedev usually has no problem redirecting cross court with his forehand. And from there Novak often either gets impatient and tries to go for too much or Medvedev's CC forehand is placed well enough to put Novak in a defensive position.

And because of the unique trajectory of Medvedev's backhand, it's really challenging for players to hit forehands from their backhand corner against him without leaving a ton of court open. Alcaraz experienced this last night.

IMO Novak should actually be more patient in BH-BH exchanges and force Medvedev to change direction. Medvedev has gotten better at placing his DTL backhand, but it's not hit with a lot of pace. For Novak I like patterns where he's hitting cross court forehands to move Medvedev off the court, then attacking into open space and coming to net. Of course, Medvedev's running CC forehand has gotten pacier and is pretty hard to handle due to that and its low net clearance, but I think Novak's generally faring better when he's hitting forehands to move Medvedev than when he's hitting backhands.
Yes, he should hit more FHs and keep rallies on the FH wing. If he tries to be more patient and have a lot of long BH rallies, Med will take his legs out. This version of Djokovic needs shorter point patterns. So he needs to have a big serving day against Medvedev.
 
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nolefam_2024

G.O.A.T.
Nice analysis! I mostly agree with everything, but I see their BH-BH exchanges a little differently. I think Djokovic very much accepts that he's unlikely to make much progress in crosscourt BH-BH exchanges, which is why he's usually the player who changes pattern by redirecting down the line or hitting a drop shot. But because Medvedev's stock CC backhand has that weird side spin that tails off the court, Novak generally plays his DTL backhand really safe to a central-ish location that Medvedev usually has no problem redirecting cross court with his forehand. And from there Novak often either gets impatient and tries to go for too much or Medvedev's CC forehand is placed well enough to put Novak in a defensive position.

And because of the unique trajectory of Medvedev's backhand, it's really challenging for players to hit forehands from their backhand corner against him without leaving a ton of court open. Alcaraz experienced this last night.

IMO Novak should actually be more patient in BH-BH exchanges and force Medvedev to change direction. Medvedev has gotten better at placing his DTL backhand, but it's not hit with a lot of pace. For Novak I like patterns where he's hitting cross court forehands to move Medvedev off the court, then attacking into open space and coming to net. Of course, Medvedev's running CC forehand has gotten pacier and is pretty hard to handle due to that and its low net clearance, but I think Novak's generally faring better when he's hitting forehands to move Medvedev than when he's hitting backhands.
Thanks for this analysis. I think he is very unique player. Wasn't my best choice from his age group but he has good game. Hard to attack on fast courts. Would be amazing if we had many Medvedev vs Federer hc matches.
 

daggerman

Hall of Fame
Yes, he should hit more FHs and keep rallies on the FH wing. If he tries to be more patient and have a lot of long BH rallies, Med will take his legs out. This version of Djokovic needs shorter point patterns.

Honestly I think Novak's single-match stamina is better than Medvedev's. Novak needs shorter points in general because it's increasingly difficult for him to withstand the wear and tear of a long tournament/season, but this is just one match -- a grand slam final. I think he shortens points during tournaments so he can grind when he really needs to.

But the other thing I should've mentioned in my last post is that the potential asymmetry in serve impact between Djokovic and Medvedev can make being patient more challenging, since those BH-BH exchanges are more likely to occur in Novak's service games than Medvedev's. If Medvedev's serve is on and he's holding quickly, I think Novak will feel more pressure to avoid protracted exchanges in his own service games.

Novak has been returning from deeper court positions than usual in this tournament. I would expect him to do the same in the Final to get more returns in play. But when Medvedev's serve is really firing he hits that wide spot in the AD court so well, so to some degree I think Novak needs to hope Medvedev's serve is a little off tomorrow.
 

socallefty

G.O.A.T.
Novak needs to hope Medvedev's serve is a little off tomorrow.
I think it is more important for Djokovic to serve well and at a high %. If he can’t break Medvedev much, he can still pull out some sets in TBs as he is playing really well in TBs. But if he serves poorly, gets broken a few times or even has too many long service games, he will struggle to win.
 

daggerman

Hall of Fame
I think it is more important for Djokovic to serve well and at a high %. If he can’t break Medvedev much, he can still pull out some sets in TBs as he is playing really well in TBs. But if he serves poorly, gets broken a few times or even has too many long service games, he will struggle to win.

Completely agree
 

Milanez82

Hall of Fame
It
While Djokovic still has a compelling head-head lead against Medvedev, they usually have close matches and Medvedev obviously beat him in a Slam final at the 2021USO also. What are the reasons that Medvedev bothers Djokovic more than other players particularly on hard courts?

What I notice is the following:

  • Medvedev at this point has a better BH than Djokovic and wins more BH-BH rallies against him and all other players. Djokovic refuses to accept this and keeps trying to have long rallies on the BH wing like he does against other players
  • Djokovic varies between playing aggressively and counterpunching more passively in Bestof5 matches to preserve his energy. Against other players he wins the majority of points even counterpunching and he often does that with a lead. Medvedev has such good shot tolerance that he forces Djokovic to play more in top gear to have an edge and Djokovic can’t mentally relax and play passively much even when ahead.
  • Medvedev serves huge when he gets a break up in a set including on 2nd serves and takes the racquet out of Djokovic’s hands on return games more easily than others. When Med gets a break, he doesn’t allow Djokovic to break back as often.
  • Djokovic has been effective coming to net to keep points short in some Bestof3 matches - can he keep that up over 5 sets as this is more explosive movement for his aging legs?
  • Medvedev has good physical endurance and can play well in long rallies and long matches

Medvedev doesn’t have a good record in 5-set matches unlike Djokovic and I wonder if this could be the difference on Sunday.

Rafa does better against Medvedev and Djokovic also blew him out in the 2021AO final. Are these lessons that Djokovic can use to come up with a good game plan for Sunday?
It will all be about Djokovic return and how much pressure he puts on Meds serve. If he is sharp on it, then he is winning this.
 

Clay lover

Legend
I still think USO 2021 was a one-off thing and that Djokovic would usually have the upper hand at least in slams due to his more diverse arsenal and better aggression.

Only hope is if Medvedev's backboard mode catches fire and forces Novak to lose patience overhit.
 

reaper

Legend
I still think USO 2021 was a one-off thing and that Djokovic would usually have the upper hand at least in slams due to his more diverse arsenal and better aggression.

Only hope is if Medvedev's backboard mode catches fire and forces Novak to lose patience overhit.
Djokovic was on fumes at the USO 2021.
 
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