Unusual Way to the Top

Matt Cronin

At 6'6" Medvedev is the tallest player to win a Slam.

There was a time a few years ago Daniil Medvedev couldn't find a solution for his game. The 25-year-old Russian is 6' 6" and no player that tall had won a Grand Slam -- until he did it a couple of months ago at the US Open.

Like a lot of tall players, he could hit the ball big and play offense. But unlike a lot of tall players, he could also run and play defense. He had loose, unorthodox swings, sending the ball low and flat across the court.

It was hard for him to understand the way he should play in today's game, where players like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic dominated by winning long baseline rallies and others occasionally broke through with big-serving, first-strike performances.

Slowly, though, the clever, dogged Medvedev, who moved to Paris to train in 2017, began to find the answers. He started to combine different strategies, using his height to his advantage when serving, getting a lot of free points to hold often and easily.

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In 1980 John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg played two of the greatest matches of all time in Wimbledon and the U.S. Open finals, both won by McEnroe, catalyzing Borg's disappearance from the game. In Epic, Matt Cronin, one the world's most respected tennis writers, and a regular contributor, tells the stories of the two legendary careers that lead up those confrontations - as well as recounting the matches themselves. We're excerpting the start of both stories on Tennisplayer - the young Borg and the young McEnroe. Get Matt's book and read the rest!

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Matthew Cronin, founder of, is one of the most prolific and insightful journalists working in the sport of tennis. Matt has covered men's and women's pro tennis for the past fifteen years, traveling the world to develop his unique first hand perspective on every aspect of the game. Matt is a regular contributor to Reuters, has written extensively for the official Grand Slam web sites, and did play-by-play on the first web radio broadcast of the US Open finals. A former co-president of the International Tennis Writers Association, Cronin resides in Moraga, Calif., USA, with his wife, Patti, and their children, Cassandra, Connor and Chiara.

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