When Daniil Medvedev grabs an early lead on the tennis court, he tends to keep a vice-like grip on it. In the current season of 2023, the World No. 3 has only experienced defeat once in 48 tour-level matches when he clinched the opening set.
The sole exception to this dominant trend was Adrian Mannarino's remarkable 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 second-round comeback victory in ‘s-Hertogenbosch this June. The Frenchman's triumph remains the only instance of Medvedev surrendering a match after taking the first set in what has otherwise been a stellar season for the Russian.
Medvedev's ability to excel from the front is no recent development; it has been a hallmark of his career. He boasts an impressive career record of 272 wins to just 28 losses after securing the initial set. These statistics, provided by Infosys ATP Stats, underscore the importance of a strong start for the 27-year-old, who is vying for his second major title.
Such a fast start could prove pivotal in his Sunday showdown against Novak Djokovic in the US Open championship match. The numbers reveal that Medvedev's prospects significantly improve when he secures the opening set. In the context of 2023, he holds an outstanding win percentage of 97.9 after winning the first set.
This places him ahead of formidable competitors like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Lorenzo Musetti, and Novak Djokovic in terms of post-first-set dominance.
Novak Djokovic's Resilience Defies Stats
Analyzing Medvedev's previous encounters with Djokovic further underscores the opening set's significance.
Four out of his five victories against the Serbian came after he claimed the first set, with the only exception being their Cincinnati semi-final clash in 2019, where Medvedev orchestrated a remarkable comeback. Nonetheless, Novak Djokovic is not one to be easily fazed by such statistics.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion is renowned for his ability to snatch victory from the brink of defeat, particularly in the intense crucible of five-set battles at major tournaments. Djokovic has showcased almost as impressive frontrunning capabilities as Medvedev this year, boasting a 38-2 record in 2023 after securing the initial set.
Crucially, Djokovic's resilience means that he doesn't lean as heavily on a swift start as his championship-match opponent. While Medvedev has encountered an 8-10 win-loss record this season after dropping the opening set, Djokovic's numbers paint a contrasting picture, with a 6-3 record under similar circumstances.
For Medvedev, the roadmap to victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium is clear: a fast start, securing the opening set, and maintaining relentless pressure. This approach mirrors his successful strategy in the 2021 final at Flushing Meadows when he claimed a straight-sets victory over Djokovic.
The equation is simple: to succeed against Djokovic, Medvedev must set the pace early and never look back, fully capitalizing on his ability to control matches from the outset.