Daniil Medvedev says his upset victory over Novak Djokovic in the 2021 US Open final led to him becoming a ‘target’ on tour this season.
The Russian star put an end to Djokovic’s hopes of a calendar Grand Slam last year, with the Serbian’s plans for a Golden Slam having already been dashed by Alexander Zverev at the Tokyo Olympics.
Having earned the World No.1 ranking following his sensational performance at the Australian Open earlier this year, Medvedev has reflected on the past year in a revealing article for Eurosport.
Writing from his own perspective, Medvedev said his status as a grand slam winner and World No.1 had drastically impacted his margin for error in most of his matches.
Medvedev said the mental side of the game had changed for him, with the early games now more crucial than ever in gaining the upper hand over his opponents – particularly as all of them are vying for a victory over the world’s top player.
“On the tour, people consider me differently now that I won a grand slam and became No.1 in the rankings. I became a target, and that’s normal. In fact, there are two different scenarios, one positive for me and a negative one,” Medvedev wrote.
“If I start a match the right way, if everything works for me, sometimes I can feel that in the head of some players they say to themselves, ‘Today, he is playing incredible, what can I do?’
“But when I don’t start well, and I begin to miss, my opponents will think, ‘There, I have to give everything to beat the world No. 1, a Grand Slam winner.’ They want to go for a big win.
“Because six months later, nobody will say, ‘OK, he won that match, but that day Medvedev wasn’t good, or Rafael Nadal didn’t play well’.
“No, what will remain is the fact they have beaten Medvedev, or Nadal, or Djokovic.”
Medvedev rolled over Djokovic in the final at Flushing Meadows last year, claiming a straight-sets win to earn his first grand slam triumph.
He followed that up by making the final of the Australian Open, where he fell to a resurgent Rafael Nadal.
Daniil Medvedev reflects on rise to top of the tennis world
The 26-year-old said he had struggled in the wake of the US Open win, having lost finals at Melbourne Park and the Halle Open in the months afterward.
However, a recent victory over Cameron Norrie at the Los Cabos Open has Medvedev feeling in good spirits ahead of his return to Flushing Meadows.
He won’t get a chance to defend the US Open title against Djokovic, due to the Serbian likely not to be allowed into the US for the tournament, however, Medvedev said he hoped his absence from Wimbledon may hold him in good stead after dealing with injury earlier in the year.
Medvedev was banned from competing at Wimbledon this year after the All England club opted to ban Russian and Belarusian players from entering, due to the continued invasion of Ukraine launched some six months ago.
“Will not having played at Wimbledon help me for the US Open and the rest of the year? I really hope so, although you can never be sure,” he said.
“In any case, it allowed me to do a big three-week preparation for the US Open and the end of the season, which very rarely happens in the middle of the year.
“With my team, we did a lot of work. Physically and mentally, I hope to be 100% until the end of the year.”