Qualifying begins: 26 June
The Draw: 30 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July
Order of Play: 2 July
Championships begin: 3 July
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Daniil Medvedev could not believe his luck, he could not believe his form and he could not quite believe that he had squashed his nerves for just long enough to close out his impressive 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Stan Wawrinka, the No.5 seed. When, after two hours and 13 minutes, he got the job done with a service winner, he dropped to his knees and kissed the green stuff.
“At 5-1 [in the fourth set], already I started thinking what I have to do after the match if I win it,” Medvedev said. “And I did it because it’s my first Grand Slam win, it’s at Wimbledon – my favourite tournament – I had to kiss the grass, I guess. Even though people do it when they win the slam, I did it when I win my first match at a slam.”
Medvedev is not used to the rarefied air they breathe at the biggest tournaments in the world. His outing against Wawrinka was only the third time he had set foot in the main draw of a Grand Slam event and he was hoping against hope that it might just earn him that first Grand Slam win. Deep down, he had a sneaking suspicion it might.
“I had a really great grass court season,” he explained, “and I knew that Stan had some problems at Queen’s, he had only played on match on grass. I knew that I would have the chance if I played good and third and first set, I think I was playing amazing.”
The 21-year-old Russian is making impressive progress in the world pecking order this year. He cracked the world’s top 100 at the end of last season and has been motoring upwards ever since. He stuck his toe in the door of the top 50 (he is ranked No.49) by dint of getting to the semi-finals in Eastbourne last week and the way he slapped his forehand and his serve to take the first set showed signs of serious intent. Altogether, it was not bad for a chap who had only won one match on grass in his life prior to this year.
Medvedev had good cause for hope as he faced Wawrinka – the Swiss may have turned himself into a serial Grand Slam champion since he started working with Magnus Norman but grass is always his downfall. Put him on a clay or a hard court and his bludgeoning power will punch holes in any defence. As for that backhand, it is not only a thing of beauty, it is a weapon of laser-guided speed and accuracy. But put him on a grass court… suffice to say it seldom ends well.
This is his 13th attempt to crack the Wimbledon conundrum and in all that time the world No.3 has only reached two quarter-finals. As if that was not confidence-sapping enough, Wawrinka also had a sore left knee.
He began the match with the sore bits taped. Then, in the second set, he peeled the tape off and called for the trainer. His knee was getting hotter and hotter and, the more heat is generated, the more it hurt. The trainer looked perplexed: all he could suggest was that his patient applied copious quantities of ice at every change of ends. This was not helping his cause at all.
The first set went to Russia as Medvedev put every ounce of strength he could muster behind that forehand (and at a terribly skinny 6ft 6in, there is not a huge amount of weight to play with) while the second headed to Switzerland as Wawrinka nipped to a 3-0 and two-break lead and never looked back. But then it all got very tricky.
The third set was finely balanced until, of all the shots, Wawrinka’s backhand let him down as he served to stay in the set. Facing set point, he pulled the trigger and could do nothing as his shot sailed wide of the side line. Medvedev was 2-1 up and growing in confidence by the minute. That was more than enough for Wawrinka: the fourth set took 26 minutes of miscues from the Swiss and jangling nerves conquered by the Russian. Medvedev had his first Grand Slam win and his first top five scalp. Onwards to Ruben Bemelmans on Wednesday.