Medvedev On Playing For Russia ‘It’s Something Special’
Russia will compete alongside Argentina and Japan in Group D
The Moscow native claimed wins in his opening four singles matches at the event in 2020, before falling to Novak Djokovic and Serbia in a thrilling semi-final clash. This year, he will be leading a new-look Russian side in Melbourne. Medvedev will be joined by tournament debutants Andrey Rublev, Aslan Karatsev and player/captain Evgeny Donskoy.
“I played [the ATP Cup] last year. Actually, I was the only one to play it from [this year’s] Team Russia. I only thought about this right now,” said Medvedev. “It's always cool, these team competitions, because it puts you out of the zone a little bit where you are always focusing on yourself… You want to win it as a team.
“You have a team supporting you, behind you, on the bench. It's something special. We are playing for the country. It's not usual [to have] team competitions in tennis. Actually, I think guys will feel it from the first second, especially [when] there [is] going to be a crowd.”
Despite being the only member of the team to have played the inaugural ATP Cup last year, Medvedev does not believe he will need to pass on any words of wisdom to his teammates ahead of their Group D ties against Argentina and Japan. The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion is confident that his countrymen possess the mindset required to succeed in the team competition.
“I think they all know what they have to do. That's a compliment,” said Medvedev. “Everybody is in [a] great mood, ready to be there for the team. That's the most important.”
Medvedev enters the ATP Cup on a 10-match winning streak, which includes seven wins against Top 10 opposition. He will be joined by World No. 8 Andrey Rublev, who opened his 2020 campaign with 11 consecutive victories and back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide.
Rublev, the highest-ranked No. 2 singles player in this year’s competition, will aim to emulate his strong start to 2020 with a successful run in Melbourne. The seven-time ATP Tour titlist, who will face fellow No. 2 singles players Guido Pella and Yoshihito Nishioka in the group stage, is keen to manage his tournament expectations.
“It's going to be my first experience here. It's amazing to be part of with such a great guys, especially when Donskoy is the captain. I think we have a great team,” said Rublev. “You always have to be in reality and understand that all the players are playing so good. All the teams are strong. They have all the top players here. It's going to be really tough.
“In my case, I don't expect nothing. I just hope we're going to do our best. In the end, what's going to happen is going to happen. For me, [my priority] is to give my best, to enjoy, to give everything on the court, and then we'll see what's going to happen.”
Medvedev and Rublev will be joined by teammates Karatsev and player/captain Donskoy in Melbourne. Following the resumption of the ATP Tour in August 2020, Karatsev claimed 15 wins from 16 matches during a stunning run on the ATP Challenger Tour. His only loss during that period came at the hands of three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka.
Alongside Canada’s Peter Polansky, Donskoy is one of only two player/captains at this year’s event. The 30-year-old, perhaps best known for his 2017 victory against Roger Federer in Dubai, is prepared for the unique emotions each of his roles will present at the tournament.
“When you [are] playing, of course you're nervous and you feel these shaky moments. But when you're trying to support your friends… you're nervous more because you're not controlling anything… it's going to be very tough for me mentally,” said Donskoy.
“Mentally, it will always [be a] full day of nerves for me, which is I think [is] normal. It doesn't matter if I'm a captain or not, it’s just how it is. You always care about them, care about the match, how it goes. [I will] just try to support them as much as possible.”
With a strong team spirit and two Top 10 singles players on its roster, this new-look Russian team is in a strong position to replicate the run of Medvedev and his 2020 teammates. To reach the semi-finals this year, the task is simple: win Group D. A strong start against Argentina on Day 1 would go a long way to achieving that goal.