Medvedev Finds His Mojo: ‘I’m In My Best Shape’
After Paris triumph, Russian ready to atone for winless debut in London last year
Even after earning $12 million in prize money and bursting into the Top 5, Daniil Medvedev still doesn’t take himself too seriously. This week when Tennis TV tweeted out a brilliant passing shot Medvedev hit in his Nitto ATP Finals loss last year to Rafael Nadal, the Russian retweeted the video with the comment, “Oh you mean the match I choked”? with a host of emojis.
There’s a Russian proverb that can be loosely translated to “the first pancake is (always) lumpy,” and it applies neatly to Medvedev’s first ATP Finals experience last year. The insurgent Russian went 0-3 at the event, including the heartbreaking loss, or “choke” as he calls it, to Nadal, who came back from 1-5 down in the third set tie-break to win the match. Daniil was asked about his tweet and how last year’s performance sets him up for this year’s tournament on Friday.
“I was really disappointed because if I had won this match (against Nadal) I would have had a chance to qualify for the semis,” said Medvedev, 24, who was born in Moscow and now resides in Monaco. “It would have been a great boost for (my) confidence to beat Rafa. But it happens in tennis. It’s something I should learn from, but also forget about because I should have won. The three defeats last year don’t affect my confidence for this year.”
Medvedev’s 0-3 showing at last year’s event also included close losses in a brutal group to Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. But he comes into this event with some mojo after beating a slew of excellent players, including Kevin Anderson, Alex de Minaur, Diego Schwartzman, Milos Raonic and Alexander Zverev, to win the Masters 1000 title in Bercy earlier this month.
“It’s a big boost in confidence before London,” he said of the win. “It was a great level of tennis, so I have confidence in myself, and I think it will help me here in London. Before, I won only one match in three or four years in Bercy, but this year I won the tournament, so I’m looking confident for this year in London.”
It was his first title in what has been an uneven season for Medvedev, who comes into the tournament with a 23-10 record on the year and eight career titles.
“The year was strange, so tough to say (what went wrong earlier), we’d have to take it tournament by tournament what was not good here and there,” said Medvedev, who confirmed that he will play the Australian Open in 2021. “[In] Paris, everything went together. I played really good tennis, it was tough to miss and that’s why I’m in my best shape and that’s when it’s tough to beat me… The season wasn’t easy for anybody so I’m going back to my March.”Medvedev’s reset will take place in Group Tokyo 1970, which includes Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, and Diego Schwartzman. He’s 4-0 lifetime against the Argentine, who will be playing in his first Nitto ATP Finals, and his win over
Diego at Bercy was a 6-3, 6-1 pasting that took just 62 minutes. But Daniil has a losing career mark against both Djokovic and Zverev. Medvedev has a 2-4 career mark against Novak, but they’ve only played indoors once, in Serbia in 2017 in a Davis Cup match. Medvedev retired with an injury down two sets to one in that match. But he beat Djokovic in two of their three matches last year, prevailing in Cincinnati and Monte Carlo.
Medvedev is 2-5 in his career versus Zverev; along with the recent win in Bercy he also beat the German in Shanghai outdoors last year. The charismatic Russian said on media day that his favourite movie of late is V for Vendetta, which is about an anarchist who attempts to ignite a revolution. He hasn’t caused anarchy or ignited (near) revolutions in the stands since the 2019 US Open, when he transformed from villain to fan favourite in a span of just a few days. But he comes into London with a head of steam and a few scores to settle in a group full of wolves, who’ll be as hungry for redemption as he is.