Win Or Lose, Medvedev Always Delivers A Good Quote

Daniil Medvedev (photo: Darren Carroll/USTA)

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, September 13, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

A couple of hours after Daniil Medvedev won his first major title, beating World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to win the US Open Sunday evening, he was still inside Arthur Ashe Stadium fulfilling media obligations that go with winning a major title.

Medvedev, an unabashed fan of Formula One racing and English Premier League football, began Sunday glued to the TV watching both of his sporting passions before focusing his attention on his US Open final. Then, he went out and played the match of his life to win his first Grand Slam crown.

Finally, after Medvedev said all the right things during the trophy ceremony and paid tribute to the fallen Djokovic, the lanky Russian strolled into his post-match news conference. He was relaxed, upbeat and ready to talk some more. Medvedev took questions in both English and French, languages he’s particularly adept in expressing his thoughts.

Win or lose, Medvedev always delivers a good quote – has a good story to share – and he’s not shy about saying what’s on his mind. On this particular evening, “Meddy Bear,” as ESPN analyst and former player and coach Brad Gilbert has dubbed him on Twitter, was in a happy mood. The US Open men’s champion trophy was propped up by his side.

“Hello, guys! Let’s make it an interesting one. I like interesting press conferences,” he said while flashing a grin on his face. And so it began for more than 15 minutes.

Reporters’ questions ranged from his approach to the match and the successful strategy he employed against Djokovic to his mindset while trying to serve out the championship. Also, he was asked to comment about his feelings about finally winning a major to beating Djokovic, which kept him from achieving a calendar-year Grand Slam.

Among Medvedev’s answers:

“First of all, we always talk tactics before the match with my coach, the day before. Usually takes five, ten minutes, some small things. Probably where I’m going to serve, what I’m going to do during the points.

“When it’s against Novak, it took like probably 30 minutes. Why? Because we played already, like, I don’t know, maybe seven matches before this one, maybe even more. Every match was different just because he’s so good that every match is different. He changes his tactics, he changes his approach. …

“Was he at his best? Maybe not today. He had a lot of pressure. I had a lot of pressure, too, about the risk on the second serve, it was because of the confidence I had. I knew I cannot give him easy serves because that’s what he likes. So that was the plan. Because of the confidence in a lot of tight moments, I managed to do it well. …

“It’s always about the small details. Again, he definitely was not at his best. We saw him playing better. The question is, if he would be, would I be able to cope up with him? We can never know now. I’m just happy to win.”

“It was definitely tough. It was definitely tough. Cannot say other way. I knew that the only thing I can do is focus. Never know what would happen if it would be 5-all, if I would start to get crazy or whatever. It didn’t happen, so again we cannot talk about it.

“I knew I have to focus on myself, on what I have to do to win the match. I do think it was not against me. It was more for him. Well, they wanted to see their guy win a calendar Grand Slam.

“But, yeah, I definitely made some double-faults because of it. That makes it even more sweet that finally I managed to pass a first serve on the third match point.”

“Everything that happens for the first time is special. When I won my first junior tournament, it meant a lot to me. When I won my first future, I was happy. I think when you repeat something, there is a little bit different emotions unless you make history.

“Why I say this is because now winning the Masters, I’m super happy, strong achievement. Not many player won a Masters in their career. But the only thing I was thinking after winning another Masters is I need more, I want to try to do more.

“You never know if you’re going to achieve it in your career. Again I was always saying, If I don’t, I just want to know that I did my best to do it.”

“I do feel sorry for Novak because I cannot imagine what he feels. I don’t know this feeling. It definitely makes it sweeter. I mean, a Grand Slam is a Grand Slam. I would win it against Botic in the final, probably I would be same happy.

“For the confidence and for my future career, knowing that I beat somebody who was 27-0 in a year in Grand Slams, I lost to him in Australia, he was going for huge history, and knowing that I managed to stop him it definitely makes it sweeter and brings me confidence for what is to come on hard courts so far, but let’s see about other surfaces.”

Finally, there was one last question for Medvedev: “Did you know beforehand that if you won you were going to celebrate that way? Why did you chose the one that you did?” He replied:

“Yeah, I can explain it. When I was running through Wimbledon, because that’s not the surface – I like grass, but I don’t feel as fluid as on hard courts. I was really confident about my game.

“I think it was like one night, you know, you cannot fall asleep. Five, ten minutes you have crazy thoughts, like every other person. I was like, ‘Okay, if I’m going to win Wimbledon, imagine I win it against Novak or whatever.’ To not celebrate is going to be too boring, because I do it all the time. I need to do something, but I want to make it special.

“I like to play FIFA. I like to play PlayStation. It’s called the dead fish celebration. If you know your opponent when you play FIFA, many times you’re going to do this. You’re going to score a goal, you’re up 5-0, you do this one.

“Yeah, I talked to the guys in the locker, they’re young guys, super chill guys. They play FIFA. They were like, ‘That’s legendary.’ Everybody who I saw who plays FIFA thinks that’s legendary. That’s how I wanted to make it.

“Again, it’s not because I want to be on the newspaper talking about FIFA celebration or whatever. I don’t care. But I wanted to make it special for people to love, for my friends to love who I play FIFA with. I knew I’m going to make it. I got hurt a little bit. It’s not easy to make it on hard courts. I got hurt a little bit, but I’m happy I made it legendary for myself.”

Then, just before it was time to transition to questions in French, Medvedev’s parting shot in English – and he said it with a smile – was this: “That was a nice last question!”

Raducanu: The start of a breakthrough tennis journey

Imagine being 18 years-old, your professional tennis career spans four tour-level tournaments and all of a sudden it takes an unexpected turn for stardom. That sums up what’s happened to British teenager Emma Raducanu after achieving one of the more remarkable breakthroughs in recent tennis history, just a few months after taking her high school A-level exams back home in London.

Last Saturday, the 150th-ranked Raducanu completed her teen dream by winning the US Open, her first major title. Her 6-4, 6-3 victory over 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez, herself a pretty amazing story during her US Open fortnight, was the culmination of a three-week New York journey that began by winning three rounds of qualifying to make the 128-player main draw and ended with seven consecutive main-draw victories without losing nary a set.

After the shocking reality began to set in, as Raducanu basked in the glory of more than 25,000 fans that packed Arthur Ashe Stadium cheering her to victory, she seemed determined to enjoy every moment she could – hugging the trophy, posing for fans’ selfies, signing autographs for little kids who held their oversized tennis balls aloft.

After Raducanu finally made it to her post-match news conference Saturday night, reflecting on how winning her first major title – it was also her first WTA tour-level crown, too – might change her life, she remained the life of the party with a smile on a face and a hint of laughter in her voice.

Early, during her 12-minute meet and greet with media, Raducanu was asked: “If someone had told you ahead of Wimbledon that by the end of summer you would be a grand slam champion, what would you have told them?” She replied:

“No, I wouldn’t have believed it at all, because at the beginning of the grass courts, I was coming fresh off my exams. I had three weeks to practice before my first tournament. Yeah, I just built up every single match, every single win.

“I mean, I thought Wimbledon was such an incredible experience. Fourth round, second week, I couldn’t believe it. I thought, what a great achievement.

“But I was still hungry. I was working hard after the grass. I didn’t have much time off. Then straight back out here on the States. With each match and tournament and week, I think I’ve really built in terms of confidence, in terms of my game, in terms of my ball striking. Everything came together today.

“Yeah, I think to pull off some of the shots I did in the big moments when I really needed it was just an accumulation of everything I’ve learned in the past five weeks.

As corny as it may sound, Raducanu admitted she always had visions from early on of winning a major title. “I’ve always dreamed of winning a Grand Slam,” she explained. “You just say these things. You say, ‘I want to win a Grand Slam.’ But to have the belief I did, and actually executing, winning a Grand Slam, I can’t believe it.

“I first started when I was a little girl, but I think the biggest thing that you have visions of is, for me it was just winning, the winning moment, and going to celebrate with your team in the box, trying to find your way up to the box, just seeing them after the match. That’s been playing in my head, like, a couple nights. Like I’ve fallen asleep to that.”

Now, after seeing her WTA world ranking skyrocket to No. 23 following her US Open title success, all eyes will be on her. The upside is that soon she’ll be able to enter every WTA tournament directly without having to qualify or to ask for a wild card. She is already on the entry list for the WTA 500 Chicago Fall Tennis Classic (Sept. 27-Oct. 3) and one would figure that she would be a lock to play the WTA 1000 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells., Calif. (Oct. 6-17), too.

“I have no idea when I’m going home,” Raducanu admitted. “I have no idea what I’m doing tomorrow. I’m just really trying to embrace the moment, really take it all in. I definitely think it’s the time to just switch off from any future thoughts or any plans, any schedule. I’ve got absolutely no clue. Right now, no care in the world. I’m just loving life.”

Congratulations to the champions