© Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

For Medvedev, Confidence Is King

Defending champion has been training with Djokovic

Low on confidence, Daniil Medvedev was unsure of how he’d fare at the final two tournaments of 2020. But there is a fine line between winning and losing in professional sport and the Russian clinched the Rolex Paris Masters and Nitto ATP Finals titles to finish the year on a high.

Speaking ahead of his title defence, this time at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Medvedev admitted, “It was very important [for 2021].

“Tennis is so much about ups and downs, gaining of confidence. Coming into Paris last year I felt completely out of shape, low on confidence and not sure what I could achieve in the last two tournaments of the year. I found my tennis and confidence to win both of them, and of course I beat Novak [Djokovic], Rafa [Nadal] and Dominic [Thiem] at the [Nitto ATP] Finals. Three really tough match ups.

“It was amazing, and that gave me confidence in Australia. After you re-watch [matches] on YouTube, your confidence is back. You think, ‘I’m still able to do it.’

“We had the pandemic when we didn’t play for a long time [in 2020 and] I had some problems with my body. So coming back was not easy, but these two tournaments last year brought back my confidence. It was enough for all this year, knowing that I could beat the best players in the world.”

As second seed, Medvedev leads the Red Group at the Nitto ATP Finals, alongside 2018 titlist Alexander Zverev, home favourite Matteo Berrettini and first-time qualifier Hubert Hurkacz.

Medvedev has been practising with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in recent weeks, and they have done so at the Pala Alpitour in Turin. The 25-year-old lost to Djokovic in last week’s Rolex Paris Masters final, but isn’t fazed by training with his rival.

“You have to practise with other players,” said Medvedev. “I think if you think, 'Oh my, he’s going to see my weak side', your life in tennis will be too tough. You’d only be able to play with your sparring partner. You also need to play with the best players in the world to improve. We were the only ones yesterday that knew we wouldn’t play each other in the group stages.

“The level of our matches will always be high, but you will try to adapt your style. I tried to re-watch the Australian Open final for the US Open final, and Novak watched the US Open match to change things [in Paris]. We both did the right things [in Paris], but he played better on the day. You know nothing will ever come easily and you need to fight throughout the match.”

Medvedev begins his Nitto ATP Finals campaign on Sunday afternoon against Hurkacz.