The smiling and surreal cardboard silhouettes that witnessed the final in Marseille on Sunday almost witnessed the accomplishment of a secular miracle: the victory of a player who plays serve & volley in an ATP final.
The miracle did not happen because at the most beautiful this romantic hero - Pierre-Hugues Herbert - took a look at the calendar and realized that he was in 2021, that is, out of time to win a tournament with these technical characteristics and therefore gave way to Daniil Medvedev.
The 25-year-old Russian was thus able to celebrate a week which - thanks to the convolutions recently introduced by the ATP regarding the ranking - saw him rise to the second position in the ranking in place of Rafael Nadal; the last player to make it that high outside the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal-Novak Djokovic and Murray quadrumvirate was Lleyton Hewitt on 18 July 2005.
Raise your hand who - after having seen him play live in November 2017 at the first Milanese edition of the NextGeneration tournament - would have deemed him capable of such a feat. The writer must sadly keep it at his side.
At the time, Medvedev was number 65 in the world and his first entry into the top 100 was twelve months earlier; his ascent took place in the 2018 season - which ended in sixteenth place - and the final consecration in July 2019 when he reached the top 10 from which he has not yet come out.
Daniil Medvedev rose to a career-high ranking of No. 2 in the ATP rankings on Monday. That means Medvedev is the first player not named Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray to occupy the World No. 2 spot in more than 15 years.
Medvedev on the Big 3
"It's disappointing when people bring the new generation down," Daniil Medvedev said. "They are like 'There is nobody to watch after Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic'"
The 25-year-old went on to say that he didn't understand the cynicism of the tennis community, especially since they didn't express such negativity before the the arrival of the Big 3. Medvedev stressed that no player has ever had the magnetic pull of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, and implied that it was unfair to compare the younger players with the legenday trio.
"But how did they do before? Nobody had the records of the Big 3! We are trying to win tournaments and just give our best," Medvedev added.