Daniil Medvedev entered the 2019 Australian Open as player number 19 in the FedEx ATP Ranking. The Russian had won an ATP 500 title, but never advanced beyond the knockout stages in a Grand Slam or ATP Masters 1000. What a difference a year makes.
Now, the No. 4 in the world Medvedev is possibly the biggest favorite outside the Big Three to lift the trophy in Melbourne.
“[A] A good Australian Open is to win it. But if you ask me what I’m going to be happy about, it always depends, of course, on who you play with, who you lose with, ”said Medvedev. “But I would say that I will be happy with the rooms. As I always say, for me the first objective is to win it step by step. If i’m in [the] quarters, I will not be there and say: “Well, I have achieved my goal, it is enough for this tournament.” Any tournament I play, I want to win it. “
Medvedev won his first two ATP Masters 1000 titles in 2019, and also reached his first grand finale at the US Open. In Flushing Meadows, the Russian left two sets to force a fifth set against Rafael Nadal, and finally fell short in the decisive. Medvedev, who led the ATP Tour last season in tour level victories (59) and finals (9), became a star. In New York, he was being recognized in the street.
“I think it is normal. It is part of the job, of the success of any athlete in any sport. But especially, of course, in New York, as the next day, I had to wear a hoodie, sunglasses, even people recognized me. He looked at me in the mirror [and think], ‘How can you recognize me? I can’t recognize myself. “
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His improved tennis is talking a lot out loud to him, but Medvedev is the same guy off the court.
“I just try to be the same with my close friends, my family. I don’t change, ”said Medvedev. “I still play PlayStation, I watch some series, cinemas, I go out to dinner. This is how you stay normal. “
Medvedev hopes that in 2020 he can continue to prosper against the best players in the sport. Although he has not defeated Nadal or Roger Federer, he has defeated Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.
“The more times you play them, the more you’ll know where you are comparing them,” Medvedev said. “For example, [the] ATP Cup match [against Djokovic], Novak was a little about me. I managed to return, almost winning the game. He still won it. They won the entire ATP Cup. But I felt I was very close. Matches like this give you confidence to see that you are able to do it, but it is really difficult. “
A defeat against Nadal hurt in particular. In the action of all against all in the Nitto ATP Finals, Medvedev led the Spanish 5-1 in the third set, maintaining a match point in that game. But Nadal recovered to beat the 23-year-old.
“The moment you lose the game, you think he will stay with me for 10 years, I will remember it when I finish my career. Then, in two weeks, you have … not new tournaments, but preseason. You have new goals for 2020. You think of the ATP Cup and the Australian Open. You got over it.
“The bad thing is that when you win a Masters 1000 or something, you have a game next Monday. Nobody cares that you won it. This is tennis. Seem right.
After a steamy period from August to October, during which Medvedev reached the final in six consecutive tournaments he played, Medvedev cooled down, losing four consecutive games to finish his season. But the seven-time ATP Tour champion was not discouraged too much, and he started 2020 on a good note by winning four of his five individual matches in the ATP Cup, with his only defeat against Djokovic in a final set. tie-breaker
“In some moments you can tell yourself that maybe it was two good months of your career, two best months, and then you can never recover your tennis,” Medvedev said. “The most important thing is to practice again, just to try to do your best, to try to hit the balls well. As I see, it will come back. “
Medvedev hopes to leave Melbourne with his first major title. But his whole focus is on his first game against the former student of the Next Gen ATP Finals Frances Tiafoe, whom he defeated in straight sets at the Citi Open last year.
“It’s a great confrontation,” said Medvedev. “He was in rooms here last year, again super motivated. But I think it will be a great match. Of course, I want to do everything possible to win it. I hope to show you a good tennis. In this way, I will have my chances. “