Medvedev's Ride From Doubting Top 10 Potential To Eyeing No. 1
At last year’s Citi Open, Daniil Medvedev was the No. 63 player in the ATP Rankings, and he lost in the second round. Before the event, he was feeling jet-lagged and lost a practice set against Lucas Pouille 0-6.
“My wife was there, and she was always telling me… that I'm going to be Top 10 soon, that I can play good and stuff like this. And so during the practice I was looking at her and saying, ‘Good Top 10 player here, losing 0-6 in practice,’” Medvedev recalled. “Now it's her turn. She always reminds me this. ‘So what did you say in Washington one year ago, Daniil? Can you remind me?’”
The secret was out of the bag long before Medvedev defeated reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev on Sunday in straight sets to win his second ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. But now the Russian, who has made the final or won six consecutive tour-level events he has played, doesn’t believe a chase for the No. 1 ATP Ranking is totally out of the question.
“My first goal is to win every match I play, and that's how I can actually become No. 1, if you win a lot of matches in a row just like I did,” Medvedev said. “But to be honest with you, when you asked this question right now, I kind of thought [that] I don't have that much points to defend till I would say USA next year. But I'm going to try my best to show great results as I did here, and if something like this is going to happen, it's just a big bonus.”
With his Shanghai triumph, Medvedev moves into third place in the ATP Race To London, surpassing Roger Federer. That puts the 23-year-old in position to potentially finish No. 3 in the year-end ATP Rankings.
But Medvedev is more focussed on his current form. That’s what helped him to a nine-match winning streak, during which he has won all 18 of his sets. Since making his first Grand Slam final at the US Open, he has won titles in St. Petersburg and now Shanghai.
“Here I looked invincible this week since I'm the winner. Because, as I say, I don't like to talk about future, because you never know what [the] future’s got for you,” Medvedev said. “This week, yes, I probably was invincible, but for the next upcoming weeks, I'm not sure. And even this week there were some matches that I could have definitely lost a set and we don't know how it would have gone. But I'm here as a winner, so [I am] happy about it.”
The seven-time ATP Tour titlist has lifted six of his seven trophies since that memorable practice against Pouille in Washington, D.C. last year. But his biggest jump in level came after Wimbledon this year, with his finals streak beginning at the Citi Open.
“Something clicked in my game in USA. I don't know why. I think it's just the hard work that I have been doing,” Medvedev said. “I started to understand even more about my game, even more I would say about my serve, about my volley, about everything, like what I have to do, when.
“[In] crucial moments I know what do I have to do and where do I have to play. If I have to play it with spin or slice or drop shot, stuff like this.”
Medvedev is not letting this success go to his head.
“I don't think I have changed as a person. As I said, as a tennis player, I maybe started to understand something more about myself, and I'm not really sure what,” Medvedev said. “As a person, I think I have changed about a year ago, or throughout this year I was changing a little bit, but I don't think that something changed 11 weeks before and that this made the change in my tennis.”
Medvedev has admitted that he believes his wife believes in him more than he does in himself, as evidenced by her Top 10 prediction. But the Russian has done well to show both himself and the world that his momentum isn’t slowing down.
“I don't know what more I need,” said Medvedev, the top seed at next week's VTB Kremlin Cup, cracking a laugh. “I need to win 21 Grand Slams to beat Roger.”