Rising star Daniil Medvedev believes that tennis is all about breaking your opponent down mentally, and has credited his success in the past two years to better attitude and discipline.
“Every one-on-one sport is all about mentality,” Medvedev, ranked No 5 in the world, told the ATP official website.
“Every tournament (tour event) that you play, to win it you need to win five matches against five real guys. All of them want to win this tournament. You need to be stronger than them.
“You need to break each of these guys mentally every match and that’s really tough, especially in semi-finals and finals where you play top players and they try to break you and they are better at it. It’s only you against your opponent.”
The 24-year-old recalls how he turned a corner, emotionally, to win his first ever Tour title in Sydney in 2018.
Medvedev had almost let slip a 4-0 lead against home favourite Alex De Minaur, and failed to serve out the deciding set at 5-4. Having seen both leads disappear, Medvedev had to dig deep to eventually script a 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory in the final of Sydney International.
— Daniil Medvedev (@DaniilMedwed) July 23, 2020
“Probably two years (ago) I would have just said, ‘I don’t want this anymore’, and I would lose 7-5,” he said. “But I managed to win it, my first title.”
“I managed to win my first title and I think it gave me a big push in the year,” Medvedev added. “The push was not straight away, but I think this meant a lot for the season.”
Ranked 84 in the world at the time, the lanky Russian with a canny game has rapidly risen up the charts in the last two years. He put together an impressive string of results during the US hard-court swing last year, making finals at Washington Open and Montreal Masters before winning the title in Cincinnati.
He continued his red-hot streak at the US Open, reaching the first Grand Slam final of his career. Medvedev took Rafael Nadal to five sets before going down 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 4-6.
“The past two-and-a-half years I tried to be really professional in everything I do. I dedicated my life to tennis, the small details,” he said.
“I want to be better, I want to play better. I want to win more matches than I win even now. That’s my goal and that’s what I’m working for.
“Winning so many matches is not just luck. If I would have won one tournament in Cincinnati and then lost everything in the first round, then we can say, ‘Okay maybe I was just lucky (to be in) good shape in Cincinnati. I am happy to maintain my level and hopefully I can do it for many more months and years.”