Daniil Medvedev’s clay court renaissance came to a sudden, bitter end during a windy Tuesday afternoon on Court Philippe Chatrier as the second seed was upset 7-6(5), 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the French Open by Thiago Seyboth Wild, a Brazilian qualifier ranked No 172.
After years of discomfort and frustration on clay, Medvedev had arrived at Roland Garros finally competing at an elite level of tennis on the surface, winning his first clay title at the Italian Open in Rome.
In his first match here, however, Medvedev was unable to play with the same level of aggression and assertiveness. He was reduced to scrambling behind the baseline, desperately trying to eke out errors from his opponent. Seyboth Wild, meanwhile, dominated the contest from inside the baseline with his vicious, precise forehand, moving forward to finish off points at the net.
Medvedev did not feel he had played a bad match, but rather his opponent was just too good “I honestly hope he’s gonna play like this later on, because if not, I’m gonna be disappointed,” said the Russian. “I’m going to be like: ‘Why today? Why not in two days?’”
Seyboth Wild was a talented young junior who won the 2018 US Open boys title, but he has since been in the news due to off-court events. In June 2022, the Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro announced that it had issued a ‘complaint’ against Seyboth Wild, meaning it had formally initiated public criminal action on grounds of domestic and psychological violence allegedly committed against his ex-partner, Thayane Lima. Seyboth Wild has denied the accusations.
In 2021, Rio de Janeiro police had begun investigating the claims after Lima submitted a police report against Seyboth Wild, who was subsequently charged. Lima also detailed the psychological and physical abuse she says she suffered in an interview with UOL. The tennis player was banned from approaching Lima and required to pay her palimony after the split.
Asked about the charges on Tuesday, Seyboth Wild said: “I don’t think it’s a subject we should talk about it right here. I don’t think it’s a question you should be making to anybody. I don’t think it comes to you to decide whether it’s a place to be spoken of or not.”
A strong tour-level result on clay seemed to be on the cards for Seyboth Wild, who was ranked 400th in March and has flitted up the rankings in recent months, winning two challenger titles and reaching a further final. The qualifier is now 26-4 since March.
It initially appeared that the 23-year-old had spectacularly fumbled the opportunity of his life after producing a series of errors from double set point at 6-4 in the second set tie-break. Medvedev took advantage of the momentum, establishing a two sets to one lead, but the Brazilian re-established control on top of the baseline and never let go.
As he complimented his opponent’s performance, Medvedev said that he felt his game was unsuited to the conditions. With the heavy Wilson balls in the wind, he thought the conditions are far better suited to players who can create heavy power and have lively wrists, such as Seyboth Wild, Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“[They] have big advantage with these balls, because they can create easy power, which I don’t have,” Medvedev said. “That was a little bit the case today. He was controlling almost all the points, and I was suffering a lot.”
Despite the loss Medvedev said he is happy to finish the clay court season. “Because of the wind, dry court, I had a mouthful of clay since probably the third game of the match, and I don’t like it,” he said. “I don’t know if people like to eat clay, to have clay in their bags, in their shoes, the socks, white socks, you can throw them to garbage after clay season.
“Maybe some people like it. I don’t,” Medvedev continued. “I am happy to have it finished. I’m going to have a good time off. Have to find positives.” – Guardian