© Astana Open

Daniil Medvedev defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets in his first-round match at the Astana Open.

Medvedev Out To Make New Memories In Astana

Fourth seed takes on Ruusuvuori on Thursday at ATP 500 event.

While some of us can’t quite remember what we had for breakfast yesterday — raise your hand if this sounds like you — professional tennis players have the ability to never forget.

Take Daniil Medvedev, for example. After arriving at the Astana Open earlier this week, he recalled his first experience in the Kazakh capital with surprising clarity.

“I played a Challenger event here six years ago,” said Medvedev. “Yeah, I remember all the matches. I lost to Denis Istomin 7-6, 7-6 [in the quarter-finals]. I was disappointed of course.”

And now, Medvedev has seen that modest 2016 ATP Challenger Tour event grow into an ATP 500 tournament featuring six of the world’s Top 10 players.

“I remember it was really well organized and I thought maybe they will one day have an ATP event,” Medvedev said. “And now we are here. It is an ATP 500 and the draw is insane. I’m really happy for the team working around this tournament for them to have such a success.

“Kazakhstan for some time has really started to invest into tennis, promote tennis. And as a player, I can only say thank you.”

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Like the tournament, which was staged as an ATP 250 in 2020 and 2021, Medvedev has evolved. He’s No. 4 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and a Grand Slam champion, going back to last year’s US Open. And, he says, cooler and calmer than he used to be.

“[I was] definitely much crazier on the court,” he said of his 20-year-old self. “A lot of people don’t believe that. I wanted to win, I wanted to climb the rankings at that point. In life I was pretty easy-going, like I feel I am still.

“I would like to think that it [fame and fortune] didn’t influence me at all, but there are going to be some people around me, if you ask them, they might say, `Maybe he changed a little.’ I try to be real to myself which sometimes can maybe be not easy for other people. In life there always going to be some people who like what you do and some that don’t.”

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One year ago, Medvedev continued to establish himself as one of the top players in his profession. He reached the Australian Open final, losing to Novak Djokovic. After winning titles in Marseille and Mallorca, the 26-year-old was fabulous down the stretch. He won the ATP Masters 1000 in Toronto, reached the semi-finals in Cincinnati and won the US Open — defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets. The loss to Andrey Rublev in Cincinnati was his only one in a span of 16 matches. He would eventually advance to the finals of the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin before falling to Alexander Zverev.

The 2022 season has been uneven. While Medvedev again reached the major final in Melbourne, he lost in five sets to Rafael Nadal. His only title came in early August in Los Cabos, the 14th of his career. His title defence in New York ended when Nick Kyrgios beat him in the Round of 16.

Medvedev looked sharp in his opening match in Astana, besting Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-1. He’ll play Emil Ruusuvuori, a 6-0, 6-2 winner against last week’s Sofia champion Marc-Andrea Huesler on Thursday. If the seeds hold, Djokovic could be waiting in the semi-finals. The Serbian star has won six of their 10 previous matches, most recently, a three-set victory in the ATP Masters 1000 last fall in Paris.

“Not much to say,” Medvedev said, laughing. “Novak is a No. 4 seed. The final eight, the seeded guys, you have to win two matches against strong guys. Yeah, the draw is super strong. And that’s great.”

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