It is not often that players go onto court against Roger Federer, for the first time, and manage not only to handle the pressure, but also play perhaps the best shot of their career. But, at the Rolex Shanghai Masters on Wednesday, that could be said of Daniil Medvedev.
The newly crowned Russian No. 1 may have lost in three-sets to the defending champion, but he won a number of fans and took Hot Shot honours after winning one of the best rallies of the tournament in jaw-dropping circumstances. In fact, the volley Medvedev played not only forced a smile from Federer, but the 20-time Grand Slam champion even gave his opponent a quick round of applause after making a volley that had so much backspin, it bounced back onto Medvedev’s side of the court.
“What was great about that shot is he didn’t maybe want that, but he gave himself the best chance to make the ball,” said Federer. “When you have the right intention, right belief and right stretch, good things do happen.”
The 6’6″ Moscow-born star is producing his best season yet on the ATP World Tour, having recently won his third title of the season at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships (d. Nishikori). Medvedev also lifted trophies in Sydney and Winston-Salem and has risen 62 places in the ATP Rankings in just nine months, from No. 84 to No. 22. The 22-year-old Medvedev also qualified for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan last year.
“This was one of the perfect examples that we both played a great point, and at the end, a little magic happens,” said Federer. “It was good fun to see it. In the beginning, you’re like, ‘I can’t believe it happened’, then you’re actually happy for the guy that he actually pulled off a great shot.”