SHANGHAI - The words "crazy", "amazing" and "dangerous" have been used by current and former tennis players to describe Daniil Medvedev this week, with at least two of them considering the Russian to be the most dangerous player so far.
Medvedev showed why in his 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 defeat of Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-final of the Rolex Shanghai Masters on Saturday (Oct 12). The world No. 4's win means he reaches his sixth consecutive final and eighth overall, an achievement that top-ranked Novak Djokovic called "amazing". Medvedev also leads the tour in match wins (58), hard court wins (45) and ATP Masters 1000 wins (21).
Fabio Fognini had said before his quarter-final loss to Medvedev that the latter was the worst opponent to play at the moment as he was "really dangerous", an assessment that former pro Thomas Johansson agreed with.
Medvedev said of Fognini's remark: "If some top players like Fabio can say this about me, it shows that I'm on the (right track), I'm playing (well) and it's not easy to play against me."
World No. 7 Tsitsipas has now lost five times to Medvedev and is still seeking a first win over him. "I hate myself for putting myself into that kind of situation where I have to play on his own terms and not on my terms," said Tsitsipas.
"(All) you can do is hit as hard as you can side to side, be accurate and make him move, otherwise you can just play it back to him... it just keeps coming back."
The first set was the 11th straight tiebreak Medvedev has won, and he said: "It just means that I'm really good in crucial moments and that's why I'm also winning matches."
Those crucial moments included facing three break points at 4-4 in the first set and losing the game while serving for the match the first time.
Medvedev, 23, said of being down 0-40 at 4-4 in the first set: "I was like, 'Damn, I shouldn't have let this happen.' But I needed to get out of this and managed really well with five good serves and some great shots after the serve."
His coach Gilles Cervara told The Straits Times this week that they had worked to improve every part of his player's game. The Frenchman added: "He has served amazing, without his serve, this summer wouldn't have existed ... it gives him many easy points (and that's) important for his game, his confidence and his results."
Though Tsitsipas had more first serves in (66 per cent to Medvedev's 64), his opponent won more points off his serve. Medvedev, whose run was described by 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer as "crazy", won 84 per cent and 67 per cent of his first and second serve points respectively while Tsitsipas won 82 and 44 per cent.
The 21-year-old Tsitsipas said: "I don't know if I'm going to be able to beat him the next time or the time after that one, but I know there's going to be a time where I'm going to find opportunities and beat him."
Johansson, whose player David Goffin lost to Medvedev in the Cincinnati final in August, told ST this week that Medvedev's solid groundstrokes, court coverage and unpredictable playing style will make him "dangerous for a long time going forward".
And Medvedev, who will face Alexander Zverev in the Shanghai final on Sunday, wants to become an even bigger threat to his opponents.
"The most important is going to be continuing these results, this game that I'm showing. Because the moment I drop, people forget good things quite fast," he added.
"I know that, and I want to work and improve every day."