The Russian Men’s Tennis Revolution

AP/Frank Franklin II, file

The Russian Men’s Tennis Revolution

For a very long time, it was Russian women tennis players that ruled the world. Leading the charge was Maria Sharapova, Anastasia Myskina, and Svetlana Kuznetsova. All were top 10 players and all won grand slams. Behind them was yet another tier of top 10 players, who never achieved Grand Slam success, yet dominated at the top. Those players were women like Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina, and Vera Zvonareva.

That was some era for Russian tennis. However, the men always fell short. In the 90s it was pretty much Yevgeny Kafelnikov holding the torch, and in the 2000s it was Marat Safin. Outside of those two, Nikolai Davydenko also made some noise. That was about it though. That pales in comparison to what we’re seeing now. Russian men are completely dominating the tour. There are currently two Russians in the top five, with Medvedev (2) and Rublev (5), and an additional two in the top 30 with Aslan Karatsev (22) and Karen Kachanov (29).

All four players have been making lots of noise on the ATP this year. Of course, it has been Medvedev that has been leading this current set of Russian superstars. Medvedev is the first out of the group to win a Grand Slam, capturing the 2021 US Open in style, by beating world number one and arguably the GOAT in the final.

Rublev has not been outdone though. He has posted some solid results in 2021, including a semifinal win in Cincinnati against his countryman Medvedev. Although he has only one tournament win this year (Rotterdam), Rublev has been incredibly consistent at the top.

Aslan Karatsev is the Russian revelation of the season. Coming out of nowhere, he started the season by shocking the tennis world with his semifinal run at the 2021 Australian Open. He wasn’t done there though, he continued his success by winning Dubai and then reaching the Serbian Open final, beating Novak Djokovic along the way.

Finally, there’s Kachanov, who is the first out of the four to have broken out. Although he is still not back to his 2018 form, he’s starting to play some great tennis again, winning a silver medal in 2021.

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