INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Danill Medvedev came to the BNP Paribas Open with the No. 1 ranking in men’s tennis. Medvedev will leave Indian Wells without that ranking.
Newly minted as the top player in the men’s game, Medvedev fell in his third-round match on Stadium Court to 26th-seed Gael Monfils of France 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 on Monday. The loss guarantees Medvedev will relinquish that No. 1 ranking next week back to Novak Djokovic.
“I didn’t play my best match,” Medvedev admitted. “Gael played good, and it was enough for him to win today. Second and third set was not that close to be honest.”
Medvedev won the tight first set that featured just one break of serve, which came in the ninth game to give Medvedev a 5-4 lead.
After that, Medvedev struggled with his game, something he has found often happens to to him in the desert at the BNP Paribas Open.
“Sometimes you don’t feel well in the tournament and then suddenly you come there and you start playing great, like, let’s say, Roland Garros last year,” Medvedev said. “I was playing pretty good, and like five times before I lost first round. So I really like the tournament if we don’t talk about my tennis. So we’ll be coming back here and trying to play better than I did all the previous years.”
Medvedev has never made it past the round of 16 in the BNP Paribas Open.
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Loss of top ranking
Medvedev said the weight of the No. 1 ranking for the first time in his career didn’t have anything to do with the loss.
“Definitely not pressure. I thought it could give me more motivation, well, I had motivation,” Medvedev said. “It’s just that, yeah, as I say, I didn’t find my best tennis. Well, now I know I’m going to lose (the top ranking), so I have Miami to try to get it back.”
In the second set, Medvedev was unable to find consistency against Monfils despite Monfils’ struggles with his own serve and a forehand that often flew over the baseline. Medvedev was broken serving at 3-4, which he called a terrible game by him, helping Monfils wrap up the set.
The third set wasn’t much different, with Monfils playing well while Medvedev fought to even hold his own serve in front of the pro-Monfils crowd. Medvedev became so frustrated that at one point in the final set he repeatedly smashed his racquet into the court near the baseline, prompting Monfils to take a towel and wipe the court when the players switched ends.
“He has a lot of carbon (in his racquet), and I know myself, you know, I can cut easy,” Monfils said. “I can cut my hand or have a slip on it. (the towel wipe) looks fun, but it was actually in the way to make sure that I won’t cut myself, you know.”
It was just the second time Monfils has beaten a No. 1 player, the last time being in 2009 when he beat Rafael Nadal. Monfils didn’t want to compare victories.
“I make it like a good win, you know? But tough,” he said. “I played a great player, of course, one of the best players. I just felt good today. Tactically, I was good. I’m full of confidence, of course, so, you know, I’m just happy to win this match.”
An underlying story for the match was Monfils facing the Russian Medvedev. Monfils’ wife Elina Svitolina is a Ukrainian tennis player, and the French star has spent much time in Ukraine with his wife’s family.
“It’s not easy to see my wife a couple weeks ago crying every night. It was tough,” Monfils said. “You know, it was tough. Of course, I was, and I’m being there for her every day, for her, for the family. Still quite a lot of family still there. It’s tough to describe because I’m in it. I’m in it. And it’s just kind of crazy when you think about it.”
Monfils advances to the Round of 16 to face Carlos Alcaraz, while Medvedev searches for answers and a return to No. 1.
“Of course I want to be there for a long time winning many slams, and yeah, you know, be there as many weeks as possible,” Medvedev said. “You never know how your career’s going to turn. I want to try to be better than I was here, you know, maybe fighting better.”.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: BNP Paribas Open: World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev loses to Gael Monfils