Daniil Medvedev registered his first win at the ATP Finals as he defeated 2018 champion Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4 on Monday evening. But the shot that got the most attention was a cheeky underarm serve he sneaked in in the second set.
Serving at 30-30, 4-3 in the second, Medvedev pulled off the underarm serve and went on to win the point as Zverev missed a backhand volley.
“I was not planning it at all. I can hit it sometimes once every one or two weeks during practice,” Medvedev told reporters later.
“I knew I was able to put it (an underarm serve) in, which is the most important thing. If you miss then you have a second serve and you will be much tighter.
“I did it once before at Roland Garros because on the clay it’s tough to serve aces and it worked.”
While the underarm serve is a legitimate shot, it is possibly the most reviled shot in tennis. It is perceived as unsportsmanlike and cowardly, or worse still disrespectful towards the opponent.
“I think with Nick (Kyrgios) and (Alexander) Bublik it became part of tennis,” he explained.
“If you look at Bublik’s interviews he likes to have fun on the court but he says that he doesn’t want to disrespect his opponent with this.
“I didn’t do it at 40-0 on my serve to laugh or mock him (Zverev). I did it at 30-all to win the point, to win the match. That was the case and it worked. I see nothing disrespectful.
“Of course, if 100 other players say I did something wrong maybe I will think not to do it the next time but I don’t think that is the case.”
"I see that he's like 5m behind the baseline and I have the ball close to my racket. So I'm like just go for it!"@DaniilMedwed explaining the underarm tactic on a big point… pic.twitter.com/VmBFetEDEu
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 16, 2020
During the match, both the players preferred to stay back and engage in rallies rather than come forward and attack. Medvedev said that he wanted to take advantage of Zverev’s court position by serving underarm.
“At that moment I saw he was really far (behind the baseline) and I was thinking about where to go. I didn’t see an obvious choice and the ball was close to my racket. He made a good shot to return back but I managed to win the point and that’s the most important,” he said.
The 24-year-old will take on World No 1 Novak Djokovic in his next match on Wednesday.