Daniil Medvedev (Moscow, 25 years old) is one of the best players of the present, number three in the world, champion of the ATP Finals and nine other tournaments, and a finalist in the US Open and Australian Open. His pending subject is clay and he has not played on that surface this year because he contracted COVID. Before debuting on Wednesday in Madrid against Davidovich or Herbert, he spoke with AS and two other Spanish media.
How did you recover from COVID?
Well. I had symptoms for a few days, like I had a bad cold. At first, retraining was not easy because I had been in bed for almost 10 days and isolated. Then I was able to go back to work, a full week, and regain the confidence to come to Madrid. Of course, the best is yet to come.
Why are you barely celebrating your victories and titles on the court?
Because I decided that was going to be my style. Although it’s not really easy to do it like that sometimes, especially when the game is even. If you go 5-1 and 40-15 it is easy not to celebrate because in your head you know that you will almost certainly win. Maybe it’s not good and maybe people aren’t like that, but I am. At 6-5 in the last set tiebreaker it’s different. Two years ago in Cincinnati I was exhausted physically and mentally and at the US Open I had some fights with the public, so I can’t celebrate anything there. Everybody started calling me a Russian machine, an ice man and things like that. I found it funny because in soccer there were already players who did not celebrate goals, but in tennis rarely had anyone. It’s cool to be the first at something and I’m sure the young people who are coming to the circuit won’t celebrate their victories and say it’s because of me.
Continuing with this, you have an aura of mystery, sometimes it looks like fire and other ice. How he describes himself?
Like a mystery boy, yeah. Sometimes it can happen that I don’t understand my own emotions. Especially when I was younger I was very calm in my private life, very much, it was very difficult to bring myself to a moment of anger. And on the track it was much worse than now. I could lose a point by winning 3-0 in the match and go crazy. That left me in shock afterwards because it calmed me down and I didn’t understand why it had happened. I started working on it two years ago and I think I have made great progress. I still have moments of anger, but I don’t describe myself as either crazy or cold.
“It’s cool to be the first in something and the young people who come to the circuit will not celebrate their victories and say that it is because of me”
Does not celebrate
Are you afraid on the court, because it doesn’t seem that the result affects you?
Rarely. Of course, sometimes you can have a kind of fear of losing when your opponent is playing better than you. When you feel like you’re trying to make every hit you can, but your opponent is hitting you back all the time. There are games like this, like the one I played against Roberto Bautista in Miami or against Novak (Djokovic) in Australia, where I did look at the scoreboard more than other times. And that’s when, fear is not the word, but you don’t see solutions. But it’s what tennis is about, trying to beat your opponent. I like it and I have a lot of experience on big stages, so I hardly feel scared anymore.
How would you like to be remembered as a tennis player?
I have been asked sometimes and it is difficult to answer, because I also behave differently many times on the track. I want to do my best, try to win as many tournaments as possible, reach my limits in tennis and then have people decide on me, my personality and my sports career. I don’t want to think about how I want to be remembered. Just doing my job, doing it right, interacting with the fans and when I quit, see what people finally think of me.
What is the best advice you have been given?
It is difficult to choose one, but the one given to me by the Russian Davis Cup coach, Igor Kunitsyn, who was a player, comes to mind. A long time ago we were talking and laughing about the topic of defending points and he said some clever words that I still remember: “You cannot lose points, you can only win them”, because it is true, every year actually parts of zero. You arrive in Australia and if you want to be in the Turin Finals or finish in the top-15, you need to win, no matter how many you lost from the previous year. It is not good to think about which ones you have to defend, if not about winning as many as possible to achieve objectives or titles.
What is working the hardest to improve on land, where it has had the least results?
In everything, because I have automatisms with which I play on hard courts that do not work on gravel. I have to program my mind to be different. And it’s complicated because we played nine months on hard court and then one month on clay and we have to do well if you don’t want to go down in the ranking. I try to practice some things even though it is difficult. What I’m working on the most is topspin and it’s not easy.
“What I’m working on the most is topspin and it’s not easy”
Problems on land
His game is difficult to decipher, is that one of his weapons?
I always try to hit shots that get my opponent in trouble. That is why it is more difficult for me on clay, because many of them, even if they are good, do not create complications. Yes I can, with certain tactics and blows, on a hard court. I try to focus on myself. If you serve well, then you have opportunities. My goal is to have certain automatisms and blows from training. But then you have to make decisions on the track.
Federer, Djokovic or Nadal, which is the most difficult opponent?
All three are tough, but when I played Roger I was a worse player than now, which doesn’t mean anything, because if I beat him now it wouldn’t be the same as when he was 25 years old. He remains an amazing gamer and an idol to everyone. It’s actually easy to answer: Rafa at Roland Garros, Djokovic in Australia and Roger at Wimbledon.
You received a message from Vladimir Putin after winning the ATP Finals this year, what do you think of him?
It is a great honor that the president of your country congratulates you. In Russia my victory was great news, which is a pleasure, because success is well received and it is not usually the case depending on the sport you play and the results you get. But I try not to talk about politics in public, I think it is something very private. Yes I do it with my wife, my family and my friends, and we each have different opinions.
“It is a great honor that the president of your country congratulates you, but I do not speak of politics in public”
About Vladimir Putin
Among the good players now in Russia, do you find any common ground?
We all have a good backhand, although Rublev is a bit more Spanish and tries to cover himself with it drive it also has a very good backhand. We are also great fighters, although all of them are in the top-100.
Of the young people that are emerging, which one do you think has the greatest projection?
Felix (Auger-Aliassime), Jannik (Sinner), Denis (Shapovalov) have great potential. For the rest, it is difficult to say, because I do not have enough arguments to do it and if I do they will say that I said this or that.
Would you like to be a chess player when you retire?
I don’t think I’m very good, although I played when I was younger and I know the rules, which is sometimes enough to beat friends. I am not amazing nor do I have the potential to become a professional. If you are motivated and want to play games, you have to watch videos or read books to improve, because you need it. If anything, I’d try to be a pro on the PlayStation or something.
What things do you like to do when you are not playing tennis?
Since tennis is most of my life, maybe when I retire and have more time I will think and find new hobbies. If you train in the morning and in the afternoon, you have to do easy things afterwards that relax you, such as watching series and movies with my wife or playing a bit on the PlayStation with my friends, to prepare my mind to return to the track strong.