The lure of competing on familiar territory has brought Daniil Medvedev to New York for the resumption of the ATP Tour and a return to life as a professional tennis player. Six months since competing in his last tournament at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille, the Russian is ready for the new normal.
“If I didn’t feel safe to come, it would have been an easy decision, but I like to play tennis; I’ve missed competing and I’m happy to be here,” said Medvedev, the defending champion at the Western & Southern Open, during a virtual press conference over Zoom on Friday.
“I’ve been in Monaco, all the time, for six months. We tried to make the best of the lockdown with my coach [Gilles Cervara]. I started practising really hard, but when we found out the suspension was going to be longer than expected, we took time off to stay fresh.
“It was like leading a normal life. It was a new time, because when you’re 12 or 14 [years of age], you begin travelling to tournaments. But it was really interesting and fun in Monaco and the south of France, with my wife. But I’m really happy to be back on Tour and leading the life of a professional tennis player once more.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Western & Southern Open, which begins on Saturday, and the upcoming US Open, where Medvedev reached last year’s final, will both be held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.
“I’m happy to see where my game is at,” said World No. 5 Medvedev. “I always play to win [and] I definitely have the competitive juices flowing. I think there will be a lot of interesting matches and results. I’m sad there won’t be a New York crowd, but it’s a decision that had to be taken this year. It’s going to be strange as the tournament progresses not to have a crowd, but you play to win.”
“I am taking it match by match first, to find where my level is at this tournament. I don’t know what to expect. It’s unusual that 150 players haven’t played for six months… I hope I will be able to play well and win some matches.”
Medvedev will play a qualifier in his opening match at the Western & Southern Open and there is a possibility of a semi-final against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the 2018 titlist. Medvedev beat Djokovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 last year en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 crown.
Last season, the 24-year-old Medvedev reached six straight finals and went 29-3 after Wimbledon. After finishing runner-up at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. and the Coupes Rogers in Montreal, Medvedev won his first ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Cincinnati and reached his first Grand Slam final at the US Open. He went on to win titles at the St. Petersburg Open and the Rolex Shanghai Masters.