Tennis Prose



Tsitsipas Solves Medvedev Again

By Scoop Malinowski

Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Daniil Medvedev yesterday at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals round robin 63 67 76, after squandering three match points in the second set and digging out of a 3-5 hole in the third set. It was the first time Tsitsipas has beaten Medvedev twice in a row, he beat the Russian in the Cincy semis earlier this year 76 36 63.

At one time it looked like Medvedev owned Tsitsipas as he won the first five times they played in ATP over 2018 and 2019. Now the head to head stands at 7-4 for world no. 5 Medvedev.

There has to be an explanation for the balance of power shift in the rivalry of the two titans. The match report on the ATP site didn’t provide any interesting details or quotes about what is really happening in this rivalry between the 24 and 26 year old, which dates back to 2018 in Miami where the pair almost had an altercation on the court after the match won by Medvedev. Earlier in the infamous duel, in the third set Tsitsipas said he lost his focus after winning a long rally which included a net cord shot by the Greek, who after winning the point, was ordered by Medvedev to apologize for the net cord, which ultimately was not a factor in the point. Tsitsipas admitted he was bothered by the verbal confrontation and blew a 40-love lead and lost the match and then the two had words at the net.

So why is world no. 3 Tsitsipas now commanding Medvedev on the court in their last two showdowns? Perhaps it could be the addition of the presence of new co-coach Mark Philippoussis, the former Wimbledon finalist and world no. 8. Philippoussis is a big, friendly, positive, good-natured figure with a lot of valuable experiences to share. Philippoussis also is very familiar with the father-son dynamics and how to handle the delicate sensitivities of the relations of Stefanos with his dad/coach Apostolos. “The Scud” was coached for most of his career by his father Nick. (Philippoussis is not listed as a coach of Tsitsipas on the ATP site.)

Mark won 11 ATP singles titles and 313 matches in his career which shined in the 1990s and 2000s. The Australian was a special player who beat Pete Sampras three times (3-7) including two times in Grand Slams – at 1996 AO R32 64 76 76 and their final meeting at 2000 Roland Garros first round, 8-6 in the fifth set.

My most memorable Philippoussis match vs Pete was at 1999 Wimbledon QF, The Scud was leading 6-4 with a break point on Pete at 1-1 in the second set, when sadly he blew out his knee and had to retire from the match despite playing maybe the best tennis of his career and on his way to winning Wimbledon (Pete would go on to win 1999 Wimbledon).

Just how much Philippoussis is factoring into Tsitsipas suddenly solving the Medvedev puzzle is anybody’s guess but I believe it’s more, much more than the media and experts realize – or are giving credit for.

Here is my Biofile interview with Mark Philippoussis that we did at US Open in the early 2000s or late 90s.

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  • Bill McGill · November 17, 2022 at 4:26 pm

    I don’t think it’s that complicated. Earlier in their careers, Medvedev, who is 2 years older than Tsitsipas, was the better player. Now, they are pretty even on both fast and slow hard courts, with Tsitsipas the better player on clay. Their last two matches both went 3 sets with half the sets being decided by TBs. They’re both great players and exciting to watch. Tsitsipas has a great all around game with probably the best volleys of his generation – not a high bar given that Zverev, Mevedev, Rublev, Hurkacz, Fritz and FA2 are all unimpressive at net and I’m arbitrarily deciding to call Alcaraz nextnextgen. Medvedev is such a likable character and has absolutely the most unique rally patterns on the tour.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 17, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    Bill, I think it’s a remarkable example of tennis problem solving again by Tsitsipas, he was also 0-4 vs Felix and it looked like he was clearly inferior, then he was 0-5 vs Med and Tsip looked even more inferior. To reverse those two head to heads reflects enormously favorable for Tsitsipas as a player. He’s the third best player in the world but he’s not generally perceived that highly IMO. Remember Djokovic was locked in at no. 3 from 2007-2010 and then he became no. 1.

  • catherine · November 18, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    A little off topic but a few more words from Tursunov who clearly feels he needs to further explain his split from Raducanu. A good glimpse at the complexities behind the player/coach relationship.

    ‘Honestly, I did not see or feel that there were lots of outside things going on. From the time that we started, Emma just really had her nose to the ground,” Tursunov said.

    “She was very hard working and I did not see her skip a lot of things. There was no aura of diva or superstar about her and I think she has been managing that part very well.

    “I was super impressed with her and couldn’t be happier with the way she is as a professional athlete. From my perspective, there are only positive things that I can say about her, just the way she handled it, how professional she is for her age. I wish I was like that when I played.

    “As far as defending the US Open, I have never won a Slam so I don’t know what it’s like to defend a Grand Slam. I think she has done quite well in that sense. Honestly, the expectations of her repeating it were extremely unrealistic and anyone who understands anything about tennis would agree to that.

    “It’s not because she doesn’t have the abilities. She has the ability but the game just needs to be improved to have that consistency to play at the high level. I think she was also very realistic, she understood that she’s got sort of a long way to improve and climb.

    “And I think she was absolutely ready for it and hungry to improve. I can’t get into her mind. I can’t speak for her. But that’s the impression that I was getting.”

    Emma’s had a wrist injury which has been troublesome but she is down to play Abu Dhabi and then start her year in Auckland. All the best to her because she pulls in the fans and not a lot of women are doing that now.

    I think Dimitry was a bit of a tearaway as a young player.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 18, 2022 at 12:41 pm

    Catherine, thanks for sharing this. It’s stunning how much people like to talk about Raducanu, and there’s a lot of word wasting and overtalk about the same talking points. There must be some dead horses in London as it’s like beating a dead horse talking about Emma’s dilemma. I was told by a top player at Spartak that Tursunov was even better than Safin as a young teen but he relocated to USA in California and his progress did not go as expected. My guess is Tursunov is hopeful to get a second chance to coach Emma and not try to lock her into a two and half year contract.

  • Bill McGill · November 18, 2022 at 12:44 pm

    Anyone who perceives him as anything but one of the best players in the world right now is ridiculous. He has an RG final, 4 GS SFs, two Monte Carlo titles and an ATP Tour Finals title and 4 other Masters 1000 finals.

    Medvedez and Zverev are both a few years older than Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas has clearly achieved more than any player his age or younger with the exception of Alcaraz.

    About the only negative you can say about him is that he is just starting to find his way on grass, but you know that is not uncommon for a lot of European players.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 18, 2022 at 2:21 pm

    Agree Bill, Tsitispas is better than he’s given credit for, it’s like they only remember his critical losses and bathroom breaks and not all the important wins that got him to where he is. He also has a soft image that belies how fierce and dynamic he really is. Just falling a little short so far but he keeps ascending, fighting and solving players.



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