Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Daniil Medvedev chasing Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic for US Open title: ‘These two bring the best out of me’

Daniil Medvedev is the first to admit he doesn’t have the power some other tennis players have on their serve, nor is his game the most “beautiful.” However, he is very tactical and gets creative to find ways to win.

All eyes are currently on world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and No. 2 Novak Djokovic as the two played thrilling matches in recent finals at Wimbledon and the Cincinnati Open. They’re the favorites to win the 2023 US Open, but the world No. 3 Medvedev is still trying to remind everyone he doesn’t just compete with the best of them — he is one of them.

“For sure, Carlos and Novak at the moment are the best two players in the world,” Medvedev told CBS Sports. “… My goal is to try to play my best, and if I play someone like Carlos or Novak, these two bring the best out of me.”

The 27-year-old Russian star pointed out there is a significant margin between him and them in the ATP rankings, as Alcaraz and Djokovic have around 9,800 points each while he has 6,260. However, he has a comfortable advantage over others as the next closest player is Holger Rune with 4,790 points.

“I’m somewhere there in the middle, trying to catch these guys but nobody can catch me at this moment from behind,” Medvedev said. “But I think why we love tennis is because anyone can beat anyone. 

“Imagine you just fell sick this day, or something hurts a little bit more. People won’t know about it but you can lose. So we are going to see this in the US Open, everyone can have trouble, everyone can have tough matches.”

Medvedev is trailing 5-9 in his all-time series against Djokovic, but he earned his first ever Grand Slam trophy by defeating the Serbian veteran in the 2021 US Open final. 

His most recent opportunity for another major title was at Wimbledon earlier this year, but Alcaraz, who holds a 2-1 lead in their all-time series, ended that dream early by taking him down in straight sets in the semifinal round. Alcaraz had also beat him in the final round of Indian Wells in March. Prior to that, Medvedev was riding a 19-match winning streak by picking up titles at Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai.

“The last two matches against Carlos were pretty tough,” Medvedev said. “Let’s call it, not easy, but he beat me in a good manner. So next match I play him I’m going to try to do better.”

They happen to be on the same side of the US Open bracket, which means he could face Alcaraz in the semifinals. The Spanish prodigy won it all in New York last year –- when Medvedev failed to defend his title by falling to Nick Kyrgios in the Round of 16.

As top players in the sport, their storylines intertwine often. Medvedev is coming off a loss to Alexander Zverev in the Round of 16 of the Cincinnati Masters, and in a funny turn of events, Alcaraz made headlines after that match. Zverev told reporters that the 20-year-old star had given him tips on how to beat Medvedev.

However, Medvedev laughed about the situation and said it was all a bit exaggerated. He said “tennis doesn’t work that way,” and that it wasn’t too surprising to lose because his games against Zverev had been close. 

To him, tennis is a tactical game, and Medvedev loves embracing the challenge of finding winning strategies in different areas of his life -– even when it comes to his downtime. 

Medvedev is not just one of the top tennis players in the world; during his free time he has also managed to become one of the world’s top players in Rainbow Six Siege, a first-person shooter video game. He has been playing it since it came out eight years ago, registering nearly 3,000 hours, and reached a Diamond ranking. Medvedev — who ranks in the top 5% of Rainbow Six Siege players — has been so impressive in the game that he recently became an official ambassador for it. 

Medvedev has played against other tennis players and even some famous soccer players, and although video games are just something he does for fun, he can brag about being better than all of them at Rainbow Six Siege so far.

“Since I was young, I was always like this,” Medvedev said of his competitive nature. “I think it was actually more about hating to lose at the beginning. With age, I understood I had to want to win more than hating to lose.”

Medvedev said he never takes his game console on tour because he doesn’t want it to be a distraction, especially right now. He wants to be extra focused for the US Open because he isn’t satisfied with his results in the last few tournaments. Medvedev might not be the favorite to win it all, but he is in the mix and ready to embrace the challenge.

“Throughout all my career I’ve had some good moments, I’ve had some tough moments, but I feel like I was always a fighter, and after tough moments it’s about standing up and trying to win the next one,” Medvedev said. “… That’s what I do everyday in my life, try to find ways to win. Maybe sometimes not with power, and not as beautiful as some other guys, but I try to find a way to win because that’s what life is about sometimes.”

The 2023 US Open is taking place Aug. 28 through Sept. 10 at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. Click here for all the information you need to follow the final Grand Slam of the year.

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