Daniil Not Done: Medvedev Striving For Success
Daniil Medvedev, who qualified for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan last year, did not get off to the best start in 2018. The Russian began his season at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Playford, Australia, where he lost in the first round against World No. 379 Marinko Matosevic.
“It was very disappointing to start the year like this, because I went to the Challenger event to get some matches,” Medvedev told ATPWorldTour.com. “We knew it happens in tennis. The guy played a very good match. There will always be losses. So I just knew I had to be ready for the next one.”
The 21-year-old was more than ready, as he cruised through qualifying before winning his maiden ATP World Tour title at the Sydney International. The championship match against 18-year-old Alex de Minaur was the youngest final since Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic at the 2007 BNP Paribas Open.
But Medvedev almost did not play the event at all. The right-hander was the first alternate at the ASB Classic in Auckland, where the lowest-ranked entrant in the main draw, Guido Pella, was just one spot ahead of him in the ATP Rankings. Medvedev preferred to compete in Auckland since his girlfriend had a visa to meet him in New Zealand.
But Medvedev’s coach — Gilles Cervara — told his charge on Friday right before Sydney qualifying that he should be ready to go while the 21-year-old still held out hope of gaining entry into the other tournament.
“Come on Daniil, nobody will withdraw from Auckland. We have to be ready to play here and I know you’re going to play well here because you’re going to pass the qualies and make a good tournament,” Medvedev remembers his coach telling him.
“So at the end of the tournament I told him, ‘I told you I would play good here, you didn’t believe me’!”
But while Medvedev was excited about claiming his first tour-level trophy, the reality is that those feelings do not last forever and in this case, they did not even last a week.
“It’s very tough because the first feeling is you’re very happy for a few days, you still have the happiness inside of you,” Medvedev said. “But then it’s finished because you have the next tournament, the Australian Open. [You] kind of forget about it and as soon as you lose your next match you’re already sad about it. So it’s not really in my mind, I just try to play match by match.”
Medvedev lost five days later in the second round at Melbourne Park against eventual semi-finalist Hyeon Chung.
But he has still come a long way. One of the three under-22 Russians with an ATP World Tour title (Rublev, Khachanov), Medvedev says that at 10 years old, he never imagined being a professional tennis player inside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings.
“I thought tennis was more like a hobby for me,” Medvedev recalled. “To be in the Australian Open juniors [in 2013] for me was already a great achievement that I admired at this moment. But I just continued working because since I’ve been 16 [when] I completely committed myself to being a professional tennis player.”
And it has certainly worked out thus far. Medvedev advanced to his first ATP World Tour final last year in Chennai and soared into the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings for the first time in July. He has made the quarter-finals or better at ATP World Tour events 10 times already. But with that being said, Medvedev wants to keep improving.
“I’m very happy with it,” Medvedev said, “But at the same time I see other guys my age stronger than me at this moment making some better results, so I just want to improve day by day and get better in the rankings.”
The World No. 56, who says he is happy to have more flexibility with his scheduling thanks to the Sydney title, faces a stiff challenge to begin his campaign this week in Montpellier, where he faces three-time event winner Richard Gasquet in the first round.
Has the title changed his mindset entering this tournament?
“Not at all,” Medvedev said. “Some people sometimes try to remind you about this and it’s funny, but here I know that I play Gasquet, who has been in the final five times here, three times the champion. So I know that to win I will need to be at my best.
“Winning Sydney does not help me a lot in this match.”