Opinion: Is Medvedev’s French Open loss part of a curse or a mentality?


Credit: Alyssa Ao

WSPN’s Jeffery Zhang reflects on Daniil Medvedev’s losses at the French Open.

Jeffery Zhang

The Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev crashed out of the 2023 French Open in just the first round. An unorganized, disjointed and seemingly disheveled Medevedev came off the same court for the seventh time in his career. Medvedev has not made it past the quarter finals of the French Open in his entire career, and fans are beginning to label it as a curse. However, I can assure you that there is no curse involved. The thing holding Medvedev back the most is his mentality.

Something unique about Medvedev is his hatred for clay courts. If you’re not familiar with the clay surface, it’s made from a top layer of fine crushed aggregate, which can be stone, brick, shale or other unbound material. The clay surface makes balls bounce higher and slower, favoring baseline players. However, one of the most important features of clay is that it allows players to slide much easier than on a hard court.

Medvedev hates moving and playing on clay. At the recent Italian Open, he was even heard muttering, “if you like to play in the dirt like a dog, then I don’t judge.” Although Medvedev hates playing on clay with a burning passion, there’s actually no technical reason for him to hate it. Medvedev has some of the best movement on tour, somehow managing to propel his tall and lanky build into outrageous speeds and slides. His frequent sliding should grant him an advantage on grainier surfaces, yet he just can’t seem to win.

In the Rome Masters right before the French Open, Medvedev was playing perfectly on clay. He was making balls and playing his own game. He won 76.5% of his service games and 33% of his return games. Theoretically speaking, he should be winning the majority of his games on clay. Additionally, when analyzing his techniques and playing style, it’s clear that Medevev’s game is perfect for clay courts. His losses at the French Open are just a part of his negative mentality. He believes that since he hates playing on clay, he can’t win. It’s as if Medvedev has given up before his matches have even started.

If you don’t believe that he has the necessary skills to win the French Open, all you have to look at are his hardcourt statistics. Medvedev is number two in the world for ATP rankings and has won 39 of 44 total matches this year. His set win rate is 79.8% and he wins 60.2% of games. His statistics are incredibly impressive and show that Medvedev is a world class player. But, if he doesn’t change something with his mentality, he’ll never win the French Open.

Medvedev can’t let his mentality hold him back. There’s no curse involved and there’s nothing wrong with his playing style. He’s fast and he can move on clay, he just needs to understand that with some time, he’ll become a better player on the clay surface. He can’t just give up. If he begins to start liking clay, he’ll perform so much better.