Favourite Or Villain, Medvedev Just Happy To Have Fans Back At US Open
The Russian 'energised' fans at times two years ago in New York, crediting them with his success after matches in which they had cheered against the 25-year-old during his fiery run.
However, Medvedev’s battling performance against Rafael Nadal in the championship match, in which he rallied from two sets down to force a fifth set, won him admiration and support from the crowd, leaving people with a soft spot for the World No. 2 as it came full circle. With these memories in Medvedev’s head, he is eager to see the reaction he will get this year.
“[I’m] really happy that there is going to be full crowd capacity in New York,” Medvedev said in his pre-tournament press conference. “That's just huge. That's cool. Actually, it's funny because I don't know, it's tough to say if it's going to be the same people or [if] nobody remembers two years ago.
“I just hope, because it finished on a good note, it's going to continue the same way. I love a New York crowd. It was an amazing experience in 2019 in every aspect. I'm just curious to see what it's going to be like again on my first match. I'm going to try just the best I can to show a good level of tennis and by this way to make fans support me.”
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is aiming to overtake Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, all tied on 20 majors, by triumphing in New York to clinch a record-breaking 21st major title. With victory, the 34-year-old will also become just the second man in the Open Era alongside Rod Laver to complete a Grand Slam at the US Open.
Although Medvedev is full of respect for the Serbian, whom he fell to in the Australian Open final in February, he is determined to stop Djokovic from creating more history over the next fortnight.
“He [Djokovic] is just amazing,” Medvedev said. “I want to say I'm going to try my best to keep it at 20 for all of them. I'm sure Novak wants 45 slams, playing until he is 55. But we're here to try to keep up his level and to beat him.
“We're here to not let him win the US Open. If I talk just for myself, I want to win the US Open. I don't care if it's in the final against a qualifier or against Novak. I just want to win this tournament.”
Medvedev arrives in New York in strong form. He captured his fourth ATP Masters 1000 title in Toronto and also reached the semi-finals in Cincinnati. The Russian, who faces Richard Gasquet in the first round, is fully focused on maintaining this level at the US Open as he targets his first major title.
“Now I have two finals, [I] need to win, to make a better result at a Slam,” Medvedev said. “I was playing well in both Toronto and Cincinnati, quite similar conditions, hot, humid. I just want to continue [at] this level. When I play well, I know that I can cause trouble to my opponents. That's the most important.”
To achieve success at Flushing Meadows, Medvedev is aiming to tactically out-think his opponents, comparing the sport to chess as he manoeuvres players around the court with his variety of shots.
“Since I was young, I was always hearing about other players, top players before, that tennis is similar to chess. So, when I'm on the court I never think about chess, but I'm thinking, which shot do I do next to make my opponent in trouble? That's what you do in chess. You think about three shots in advance. I think that's a little bit tougher in tennis because it goes so much faster.
"I think that's a little bit tougher in tennis because, well, it goes so much faster. It's not like your opponent made a shot and you are there for two minutes saying, 'okay, where do I go next?' But you do this in practice. You work with your coach. You play two cross-courts, one down the line, your opponents go cross, you try to hit it down the line, you go to the net, whatever. These things, they become automatic for you on the court."