BY JAMES BECK
Watch out men’s tennis.
Here comes Daniil Medvedev.
So, the men’s tour doesn’t belong to Carlos Alcaraz just yet.
Medvedev may not look that great as a tennis player, but just watch his tenacity and strategy. He plays to win, and he does just that most of the time.
He can be forgiven for losing to Alcaraz two weeks earlier in the Indian Wells final when you look at what he did in Miami.
DANIIL BEATS THE HEAT AND SINNER
Medvedev beat the heat all week and then withstood the bullets of Jannik Sinner in Sunday’s final. He’s tennis’ hottest player right now with a 24-1 record in his last 25 matches.
Even Alcaraz can’t top that, although the Spanish Wonder’s ATP points total is right below No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic’s.
Medvedev double-faults his share of the time, but he blasts aces just about as often on second serves. The slender Russian hits winners almost at will while playing a cat-and-mouse rallying game with his opponents.
HELP FROM SINNER
Of course, Medvedev had some help from Sinner in Miami. Sinner wore out the acrobatic Acaraz in the semifinals, and wore out himself in the process.
So, not only are Djokovic and Rafa Nadal, along with Acaraz, Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas key players to watch in the European clay-court season, it may be time for the 27-year-old Medvedev to nail down a Grand Slam title other than the one he earned at the 2021 U.S. Open.
ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN ON RED CLAY
Another Alcaraz-like might even burst on the scene in Europe. Or maybe Americans Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul or Frances Tiafoe might make their mark on the red clay.
Anything seems to be possible, with Djokovic still a little unpredictable, and Nadal and Alcaraz sometimes one bad step away from an injury.
Who would have thought at the start of 2022 that a young man named Alcaraz would become the world-wide heart-throb of men’s tennis in such a short time.
YES, CARLOS ALCARAZ HAS FLAWS
Of course, Alcaraz has flaws.
He still has to learn that tennis isn’t soccer or football.
Diving for loose balls all over the court makes no sense at all. Except maybe on Wimbledon’s grass.
And certainly not on the hard courts of Miami.
He makes landing on two hands and his toes, or maybe two arms and two knees look spectacular. But the only thing that does is threaten his career. Of course, he doesn’t win many of those points.
The football fans among the crowd love Alcaraz for those stunts. Alcaraz still needs to grow up by the time he reaches 20 years old.
James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.