MARSEILLE, France — Top-seeded Daniil Medvedev was pushed to three sets by doubles specialist Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the Open 13 final on Sunday, winning 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-4 for his 10th career title on the eve of his move up to second in the rankings.
Medvedev will overtake Rafael Nadal on Monday and push the 20-time Grand Slam champion down to No. 3.
“It is always better when you step up the rankings when you do something great,” Medvedev said. “It is great for the self-esteem that, just before becoming No. 2, I win a tournament.”
Victory also made his childhood dream come true.
“I am really happy about the number 10. It gets me to two digits, something which I dreamt of when I was a kid,” said Medvedev. “It is already a great number, but I am going to try to work more and get some more. I really like to play on hard courts, I feel like that is where my game suits me the best. I feel like I know the solutions I have to find.”
Given that six of his 10 titles have been on indoor hard courts, he was heavy favorite here. Furthermore, the two-time Grand Slam runner-up faced a player with all four majors in doubles, but without any titles in singles and ranked 93rd.
But the serve-and-volley specialist Herbert did made it awkward for the imposing Russian at times by upsetting his rhythm, breaking his serve once and forcing him to save four break points.
“Pierre-Hugues can play unbelievable tennis. I know what he is capable of,” Medvedev said. “Especially when I lost in the Roland Garros first round. Today was a tricky, tough match and I am really happy that I managed to be on top.”
Medvedev edged the Frenchman in aces 13-10 and first-serve points won – 83% compared to 72% – while converting three of his six break points.
The Australian Open runner-up improved to 14-2 this year and has won 23 of his last 25 matches.
Boosted by his wins over second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas and former No.4-ranked Kei Nishikori this week, Herbert’s confidence showed as he tried to shorten the points by rushing to the net.
But ultimately he fell short, dropping to 0-4 in singles finals compared to 19-7 in doubles.
“It has been an incredible week. I played five really high-level matches. This is what I am proud of,” Herbert said. “I lost to someone who was just better (over) the full match. I managed to hold on and have a chance, but he was too good.”
When he climbs to No. 2 on Monday, Medvedev will be the first player outside the Big Four of Roger Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to do so since Nadal in July 2005.
Now he just needs to win a major.