Daniil Medvedev vs. Maxime Cressy: Why American Underdog Will Surprise Many (Jan. 23)
TPN/Getty. Pictured: Daniil Medvedev hits a backhand at the Australian Open.
Daniil Medvedev vs. Maxime Cressy
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | ESPN+|
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Care for a trip back to the late 20th century? Maxime Cressy has you covered in the best of ways.
The world’s No. 70 player is quickly making a name for himself, and he’s doing it via the unique style of serve-and-volley play. At 6-foot-6, he has the ideal frame for a modern tennis player and he’s using it to his advantage. However, he’s not the same type of big-serving American that we’ve seen with players like John Isner and Reilly Opelka.
While the latter two are some of the best servers in tennis history, they don’t use the serve-and-volley tactic nearly to the extent that Cressy does and they don’t have the hands that he does. The former UCLA star has incredible feel for a big man, allowing him to craft a game style he executes to an exceptional level.
To a large extent, Cressy’s breakout is due to confidence. His serve and play at the net is one thing, but his confidence on return and on the ground has allowed him to apply immense pressure on his opponents.
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Daniil Medvedev comes into this matchup having been heavily tested once in the prior three rounds of the tournament. He cruised past Henri Laaksonen and Botic van de Zandschulp, but in the second round he was given a big challenge in the form of a focused Nick Kyrgios.
He passed that test, and that will have helped him with his preparation for Cressy. Though Cressy’s service style is a bit different to the Aussie’s the two share some similarities in terms of form and placement. While Kyrgios tends to generate a ton of free points behind his power, Cressy prefers to use placement as a means of getting to the net for a first volley.
In theory, a player with the defensive prowess and court coverage of Medvedev would enjoy dealing with a serve-and-volley player, but I don’t necessarily believe that is the case.
History has shown Medvedev struggles in times when opponents take advantage of his deep court position, and I believe the “S-and-V” tactic will exploit that frustration.
In becoming one of the best defensive forces, Medvedev has decided that he’s often going to give up court position at the start of points to begin dictating from a deep position. However, that creates a rare vulnerability for Medvedev, as players that can get to the net have the advantage of space to work with in matches.
A great example of this was Medvedev’s match against Hubert Hurkacz at Wimbledon. The Polish No. 1 came to the net 69 times against Medvedev, winning 72 percent of those points. By cutting off the angle that Medvedev provides with his deep position, players with good feel can use the tactic to their advantage.
While Medvedev’s return is far better than what Cressy has faced so far, there’s no indication he won’t be able to effectively use his favorite tactic. Against Rafael Nadal two weeks ago, Cressy lost 6-7(6), 3-6, but he showed that he can compete with the best players in the world using his unique game plan.
He’s 0-4 against top 10 opponents in his career, but Cressy has competed well with every single one of them, and this is objectively the best form he’s ever been in. Cressy is also 6-4 in best-of-five matches, so fitness shouldn’t be a concern.
At a number as low as 30.5, I’m comfortable investing in the idea that Cressy will be able to fluster Medvedev on serve, and with the confidence that he’s playing with, he can create some pressure against the No. 2 player in the world.
Pick: Over 30.5 Games (-115)