It’s the match we’ve all been waiting for. When Medvedev was at the peak of his powers in 2021, Alcaraz was not yet ready for the demands of top level tennis. When Alcaraz stepped into the breach and stormed to the top of the rankings last year, Medvedev had lost his way. But finally, their paths will cross with both men playing at or near to their best level.
They’ve met once before, at Wimbledon 2021, where Medvedev won in straight sets. However, grass is not Alcaraz’s favourite surface and Alcaraz was still down at 75 in the world rankings. Medvedev, in contract, was on his way to finishing the year as World Number One. The context of today’s match is completely different. Both men have since become Grand Slam Champions and spent time as the best player in the world. Alcaraz has the chance to return to number one in the rankings with a win. Medvedev is looking for his 4th consecutive title and his 19th straight win today, so there is a lot on the line for both.
Alcaraz’s path to the final has been relatively uncomplicated, given the quality of his opponents. Alcaraz was admittedly a little lucky to find himself up against an injured Jack Draper Round 4, who pushed Alcaraz all the way in Basel last year. However, Draper retired with a tear in oblique after just 10 games. Alcaraz then had to find another gear to beat Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jannik Sinner, both in straight sets.
Medvedev has had his difficulties in the California desert. Unlike Alcaraz, he has dropped 2 sets so far and has certainly had a lot to say about the speed of the courts. Medvedev was heard saying “I’m gonna pee as slow as this court is. So you can take 25 minutes. The court is slow so I go slow, I take my time. I don’t accept this. They say on the fact sheet this is hard courts. This is not hard courts.” However, after overcoming tough battles against Ivashka and Zverev (as well as his own personal war against the courts), Medvedev has since adjusted to the conditions and has impressed his quarter-finals and semi-finals.
It is hard to say who will win this highly anticipated encounter this evening. Nobody has managed to beat Medvedev in 19 attempts. The last man to do so was Sebastian Korda in January, who produced a special serve and volley performance, exploiting Medvedev’s deep return position and backing up his precise serving with expert volleying. Alcaraz, although capable of a tactical serve and volley, is not that sort of player. However, fatigue may play a part as Medvedev has played a lot of tennis recently. Alcaraz has looked strong this week but was a little shaky at times against Sinner. There will be no room for error tonight against Medvedev, who is arguably the best player in the world at the moment according to form.