The whirlwind of a rising Daniil Medvedev

Watching Daniil Medvedev speak is like watching a tornado from inside Dorothy’s farm in “The Wizard of Oz”. His thoughts swirl at such ...


Watching Daniil Medvedev speak is like watching a tornado from inside Dorothy’s farm in “The Wizard of Oz”. His thoughts swirl at such a rapid pace that you don’t even have time to run to a storm cellar.

Then it becomes clear: Medvedev, world number 2 and winner of this year’s US Open, answers questions much like he’s playing tennis – fast and furious, seemingly without stopping to resume. his breath.

“The most important thing is that I try to be myself on the pitch,” he said in a video chat from Paris, when told his peers had described him. like a chess master, a genius and an octopus. “I’m just trying to play good tennis and win games. Then I let others decide what they think.

In September, Medvedev, 25, of Russia, served as the ultimate spoiler when he toppled world No.1 Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to win his first major in the US Open. Djokovic had already won the Australian and French Open and Wimbledon in 2021, and a victory at the US Open would have made him the sixth player in singles and the third man to win the championship. Grand Slam. Medvedev’s victory also deprived Djokovic of a 21st career major tournament. Instead, he, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are still tied with 20 majors each.

“He’s definitely improved a lot and the Grand Slam victory at the US Open didn’t surprise me,” said Djokovic. “He’s got a great serve and he’s hitting his points incredibly well in the box. It is without a doubt the greatest weapon in its game.

“Then of course that backhand is very flat and it’s as strong as a wall on this side,” added Djokovic. “He’s just not missing. And he improved his forehand a lot. He is very professional and very intelligent in the field. He is keen on the game. He understands how to use the field, how to position himself when he is defending, when he is attacking. His net game has also improved, so he doesn’t hesitate to come forward. Today he has become a more complete, more complete player and, therefore, he is a Grand Slam champion.

Medvedev tries to defend his championship at End of season Nitto ATP finals, which begins on November 14 and has moved from London to Turin, Italy, This year. Last year Medvedev beat Alexander Zverev, Djokovic, Diego Schwartzman, Nadal and Dominic Thiem to win the title.

When Medvedev First climbed to No.2 in March, this was largely because he had won his last 10 games of 2020 and his first 10 of 2021. He was eventually stopped by Djokovic in the final of the l ‘Australian Open in February.

“Daniil has perfected the game he plays and which few players can play,” said the fourth Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has lost to Medvedev six of the eight times they have played. “I call it ‘octopus’ for a reason. He’s just able to get balls that not many people can.

So it’s strange that Medvedev constantly refers to his declining self-confidence.

“There was a time when I wasn’t sure of myself,” he said. “I doubted certain things about my physical capacities, my tennis capacities. I had a doubt, that’s tennis. Then I won these two amazing tournaments [2020 Rolex Paris Masters and Nitto ATP Finals], beat a lot of top players, I regained my confidence and I said to myself: “OK, I believe in myself. There is no reason not to believe anymore.

Medvedev was never a prodigy. He hasn’t been ranked No.1 among juniors, has never even made it past the third round in any of the major juniors. But that didn’t stop him from aspiring to play among the best.

“I’ve never even been in the quarterfinals of a slam,” Medvedev said. “But when you come to these Grand Slam tournaments, it doesn’t matter if you’re ranked 30, 20 or I think I was 13 at the most, you see all these top players you watch on TV and they do things normal. They eat, they take a shower, they go to play games, they can even laugh with you juniors. And in fact, you feel that you belong to this group. “

Before Medvedev played tennis, he said he was known in the family for his temper tantrums at home. His two older sisters, Julia and Elena, were powerless to control him.

“I remember when I was 4 years old I was a bit of a ‘researcher’,” Medvedev said with a chuckle. “Like I wanted something, I could start to cry. I think that’s the part that could sometimes show up on the tennis court, especially when I was younger, because the thing is, what do you want on the tennis court? You want to win.

Medevedev has proven his petulance more than once in his professional career. In 2016 it was failing of a Challenger game in Savannah, Ga., for suggesting that the chair umpire favor his opponent based on race.

Then, at the 2019 US Open, Medvedev was booed by the New York crowd during a match against Feliciano Lopez when he received a warning from the referee for throwing his racket and then snatching a towel from a ball man. As fans screamed in disapproval, Medvedev stuck out his ear, begging them to continue.

Then, during his post-match interview, Medvedev told the crowd, “Thank you guys, because your energy tonight gave me the win. If you weren’t here, guys, I would probably lose the game. So I want you all to know, when you sleep tonight, I won because of you.

The crowd responded by booing even louder. Medvedev won his next three games before being beaten by Nadal in the final.

Just before the start of the Paris Masters in October, Medvedev and Djokovic had a two-hour training session at the Mouratoglou Academy on the French Riviera. It was the first time the two had seen each other since their US Open final in September. They chatted for 15 minutes after practice, but neither of them mentioned meeting in New York.

“It’s okay, no matter if you lose or win, you don’t talk about these games because there will be a loser who doesn’t want to talk about it,” said Medvedev, who also lost to Djokovic last Sunday in final. of the Master of Paris. “And when I win, I don’t mean, ‘Hey, remember …'”

When Medvedev was around 14, he said, he read Christopher Paolini’s book “Eragon”. He was so enthralled by the fantastic tale of magic, glory and power that he read all 528 pages in three nights, imagining at the same time that he was part of this world.

Now that he’s entangled in his own fantasy world, Medvedev refuses to revel in it.

“I don’t look too far back in my life,” he said. “I like to think about the present and the future more than the past, even if the past is good. I use it more as a confidence, to say, “Wow, I managed to win, to beat Novak in the final of a slam.” I will use it more if I have any doubts about my career, which can happen.

“If you lose the first round or the quarterfinals in some tournaments, maybe two in a row, you’re always going to ask yourself questions, like ‘Am I going to be able to come back?’ That’s when you can look back on that game and be like, “Wow, it’s possible. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: The whirlwind of a rising Daniil Medvedev
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