Coming into 2024, Daniil Medvedev has played in five Grand Slam finals in his career and lost four of them. It’s a painful return for a player who is desperate to establish his legacy in the same era as the Big Three: Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. So, will 2024 bring a change of luck for Medvedev? The answer is we’ll soon find out as the Australian Open gets closer to crowning a champion.
At a price of 17/2 to win the 2024 Australian Open, Medvedev certainly isn't the favourite but the Russian has enjoyed considerable success in Melbourne after playing in consecutive finals in 2021 and 2022. While this is an impressive record that suggests Medvedev isn't far off cracking the code at the Rod Laver Arena, the favourite tag still belongs to Djokovic wherever he plays.
As the man being tipped to win all four Grand Slams this year, Djokovic undoubtedly stands out as the most reliable choice for those considering safe bets on tennis during the year's four majors. This domination on the men's tour isn't likely to change either as the Serb seems to get better with age.
Irrespective of Djokovic's genius and predicted silverware sweep, Medvedev is more than capable of challenging and even adding to his Grand Slam tally in 2024 given his prowess on hard courts.
Admittedly, 2023 was the obvious exception to this as the Russian was dumped out of the Australian Open during the third round. However, it was evident that Medvedev was still coming to terms with the manner of his defeat in the 2022 final against Nadal when he was unable to see the job through despite going two sets up. Regrettably, Medvedev cut a lethargic figure on his return to Australia and was soon on a plane home.
However, such a disappointing and premature end at the Australian Open turned out to be the incentive that Medvedev needed to find his groove again. Over the next 11 months, the Russian racked up more wins in the calendar year than any other player on tour with 66.
Crucially, 74% of those wins came on hard courts. Such dominant stats over the last 12 months provide further evidence of why big things are expected of Medvedev in 2024 after emphatically leaving his mark on the men’s game in 2023.
The challenge for the Moscow-born player will be to shoulder the weight of expectations on him during the year’s four Grand Slams after a barnstorming 2023. The reality is that Medvedev tends to let himself be overwhelmed by the occasion, which scuppers his chances of making history.
This trend often shows itself by getting drawn into confrontations with the crowd during moments of intense pressure. The most notable example of this came during the aforementioned 2022 Australian Open final defeat to Nadal.
At two sets up and cruising towards his second career Grand Slam, Medvedev made the mistake of not only taking on Nadal but also the crowd. With every point the Spaniard scored in his comeback, the noise decibels went up while Medvedev’s performance went down. A needless defeat followed shortly afterwards.
By now, spectators around the world are aware of how susceptible Medvedev is to the odd remark from the stands, which means that they arrive more frequently.
The Russian will need to find a way to shut out the noise in 2024 and focus on what he seems to have no problem doing when he’s in a settled temperament: beating his opponents.
Should Medvedev be successful in overcoming this barrier to success, then he's destined to throw off the tag of tennis' nearly man and enjoy a year which sees him make up for lost time.