Daniil Medvedev Is Winning Ugly, but He’s Winning a Lot

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MASON, Ohio — With an unorthodox playing style one rival described as “good sloppy,” Daniil Medvedev has been cleaning up on the ATP Tour.

Medvedev defeated Jan-Lennard Struff, 6-2, 6-1, on Thursday in the third round of the Cincinnati Masters for his 41st win of the season, tying Rafael Nadal for the tour lead. In the last 17 days, Medvedev has had 11 wins, all in straight sets.

Medvedev, a 23-year-old Russian, is now ranked a career-best No. 8. He was ranked outside the top 50 a year ago, losing in the preliminary qualifying rounds at this tournament.

This year, he arrived at Cincinnati after reaching back-to-back finals in Washington and Montreal, falling to Nick Kyrgios and Nadal.

Perhaps the most flummoxed by Medvedev is seventh-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is 0-4 against him.

“He just has this completely different way of playing which consists of playing flat and low and not giving you much angle to play with,” Tsitsipas said. “I think sometimes that can be very disturbing, especially when it’s over a long term. He has a very, very weird game. I don’t mean this in a negative way; he just makes you feel uncomfortable when you play against him.”

Tsitsipas then lapsed into Greek to ask his manager, Nick Tzekos, to translate a word he was searching for.

“It’s very ‘sloppy,’ exactly,” Tsitsipas confirmed. “It’s good sloppy. He can make you miss without you understanding how you just missed. You miss shots that you don’t miss.”

Medvedev said he agreed with Tsitsipas’s assessment.

“That’s what I’m doing: I’m trying to make people miss with kind of shots that they are not used to playing, I would say,” he said. “Many, many matches I won just because people don’t get used to it and just miss many shots.”

His technique, in which his gangly arms and almost golf-like swings produce flat, zipping shots, draws mixed reviews when style points are awarded.

“I read the comments sometimes,” Medvedev said. “Fifty percent of guys are saying, ‘This is ugly,’ and 50 percent are saying, ‘This is funny,’ because I’m putting the ball in the court.”

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