“I really wanted to show I’m a good player,” Marton Fucsovics said, with disarming honesty, after his 6-4, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-1 win over No. 4 seed Daniil Medvedev at Roland Garros on Monday evening.
Fucsovics’ statement may have sounded almost childishly obvious on the surface, but if you’ve ever seen him play, and then looked up his ranking, you understood exactly what he meant. The Hungarian is 28 years old and ranked No. 63 in the world. He has never cracked the Top 30, has won one career title, and has an ATP-level record of just 81-77 after 10 years on tour. As he proudly noted tonight, this was his first Top 10 win.
All of which seems a little unbelievable after you’ve watched Fucsovics for a few minutes. A muscular 6’2″, he has an ideal tennis build. He has textbook technique on all of his strokes. He can bomb his forehand for winners from anywhere, especially when he has any time to set up. And while he can seem a little rigid at first, he has a nice, soft slice backhand to go with his two-handed drive. He is, as he says, a “good player,” and better than his ranking.
In what may have been the first true night match in Roland Garros history, under the lights on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Fucsovics finally had a chance to prove it. He beat Medvedev by giving the Russian a taste of his own, unpredictable medicine. While Fucsovics went full speed ahead on his forehand whenever he could, he was more patient than usual on the backhand side. If Medvedev pushed him back or rushed him, Fucsovics was content to take the air out of the ball, chip it deep, and make the Russian work without any pace.
“I had to hit a lot of slices to break his rhythm and stay in the rallies,” Fucsovics said.
It was all too much for Medvedev, who received a code violation for slamming his racquet at the end of the second-set tiebreaker.
While Medvedev calmed down and took control in the fourth set, this was Fucsovics’ night. The Hungarian has shown flashes of brilliance over the years, but tonight he maintained it until the end.
After surrendering the third set quickly, Fucsovics bounced back right away and opened the fourth set with three brilliant games. To go up 3-0, he won won one long, lung-busting rally, and followed it up on the next point with a delicate, perfectly measured drop shot-lob combination. When his lob nestled an inch inside the baseline for a winner, Fucsovics raised his fist in triumph, while Medvedev ranted at his coaches. Four games later, the match was over.
Medvedev’s exit means Stefanos Tsitsipas is the highest seed in the second quarter of the draw, and the highest seed in Novak Djokovic’s half. But it’s hard to imagine that Fucsovics is done with his work at Roland Garros.
“I also want to break into the Top 10,” he said afterward, again with disarming honesty.
These days on the men’s tour, it’s never too late for a player of Fucsovics’ talents to show us just how good he can be.