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Daniil Medvedev: “I’m going to try to be better next time”

  • Vivienne Christie

Reflecting on a fifth appearance in a Grand Slam final, and a third at the US Open, a philosophical Daniil Medvedev noted he’s experienced the best of times at Flushing Meadows.

In 2021, the Russian ended Novak Djokovic’s fabled attempt to complete a calendar Grand Slam with victory in their surprisingly one-sided championship match.

“Really, I find this amazing that I beat Novak in the Grand Slam final so that’s the probably, at this moment, the pinnacle of my career,” said Medvedev of that 6-4 6-4 6-4 win.

If a straight-sets loss that delivered Djokovic with his record-breaking 24th Grand Slam title at the 2023 US Open wasn’t exactly the worst of times for Medvedev, it nevertheless provided the No.3 seed with reason for pause. 

“At the same time,” he added in the trophy presentation. “Maybe (if) he and Rafa (Nadal) didn't exist – well, that's not possible (but) I played five (Grand Slam) finals against them, and I only managed to win one.”

It’s admittedly hard to argue that Medvedev is a victim of sorts in an astonishing era of men’s professional tennis, with his four losses in the highest-stakes contests occurring against each of those men.

Nadal defeated the Russian for both US and Australian Open honours – firstly, in a five-set battle in Medvedev’s maiden major final in the 2019 US Open, then in the Spaniard’s AO 2022 triumph – while Djokovic triumphed over Medvedev to lift the trophy at Melbourne Park in 2021.

Amid several regrets for Medvedev in their latest encounter – not least that it would have been the perfect gift to wife Daria on their wedding anniversary – was an inability to convert a set point when Djokovic appeared more physically challenged in the second set.

“Oh, regrets, for sure. Should have won it. Should have won it, but sometimes tennis (is) not that easy,” he commented of that chance as Djokovic served at 5-6 in that pivotal one-hour, 45-minute set, which was eventually decided in the tiebreak.  

“(The) second set was the best set I played and I didn't win it … if I would win it maybe could have been a different game,” he added. “(But) that's how life is and tennis is, so I’m going to try to be better next time.”

Medvedev can target those improvements after multiple highs from a successful 2023 season, with five trophies so far including three hard-court titles at consecutive tournaments and a first-ever clay-court title at ATP Masters 1000 level in Rome.

There are also a series of positives for Medvedev to take from his seventh US Open campaign. Most notable for the 27-year-old was his semifinal victory over defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, reversing his loss to the Spaniard at the same stage of Wimbledon.

It marked his 50th hard court win at Grand Slams, and saw Medvedev become one of only three Russian males in the Open era – alongside Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin – to claim 50 or more Grand Slam wins on that surface.  

Medvedev acknowledged the challenge to back up victory over Alcaraz, which was completed in three hours and 19 minutes, in the final.

“It’s not easy to repeat, because against Carlos I played one of best matches of my life,” he said. “I mean, against Novak here two years ago it's kind of in the same category. It's not that easy to repeat it day in, day out.” 

Adding to the challenge for Medvedev was the loss he’d handed the Serbian on the same court, and on the same occasion, two years earlier.  “Novak, when he loses, he’s never the same after,” he’d noted ahead of their latest match.

The same could also be true for the Russian, who transformed a lacklustre North American summer – with losses in the Toronto quarterfinals and Cincinnati third round – into renowned hard-court form in New York.

And while joking that “I want to ask Novak, ‘what are you still doing here?’, Medvedev also noted how the prolific champion has shaped his overall progress as both a player and a person.

“You know, he pushes me to be better,” he said.