Russia’s Daniil Medvedev says his status as world number one and a Grand Slam champion has made him a “target” on the ATP tour, but says he is relishing the challenge of defending his title when the US Open begins next week.
Medvedev, 26, heads to New York as the reigning champion after claiming a maiden Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows last year.
Since that victory – which came with a straight-sets win over Novak Djokovic in the final – Medvedev has ascended to the top of the ATP rankings and is currently enjoying a 14th week as world number one.
Speaking to EuroSport, Medvedev said he will arrive at the US Open with “good memories” but that his achievements meant he is perceived differently by his rivals.
“I’m glad I managed to accomplish that [winning a Grand Slam]. It’s a big step in the life of any player,” Medvedev said.
“We can always discuss what is more important, between the ATP Finals, the Davis Cup, the Masters 1000, and so on. But the Grand Slam is above everything…
“On the tour, people consider me differently now that I won a Grand Slam and became number one in the rankings. I became a target, and that’s normal,” Medvedev added.
Medvedev’s rise to the top of the rankings has been a bright spot in 2022, although there have also been blips.
There was the bitter disappointment of his defeat to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final in January – where he surrendered a two-set lead – as well as his injury layoff for a hernia operation.
Following his return, there were losses in the finals of the Halle Open in Germany and at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.
Medvedev did win the Los Cabos Open in Mexico earlier in August to ensure he will have at least one ATP crown to his name in 2022, although he bowed out to Nick Kyrgios at the Canadian Open and lost to Greek rival Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinals at the Cincinnati Masters last weekend.
Along with his compatriots, Medvedev was banned from contesting Wimbledon earlier this year because of the conflict in Ukraine, but the 6ft 6in star suggested that could work in his favor as the US Open arrives on his favored hard court surface.
“I really hope so [that missing Wimbledon helped], although you can never be sure,” Medvedev told EuroSport.
“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.”
Medvedev will be top seed in New York, where key rival Novak Djokovic is set to be absent because of Covid-19 vaccine requirements to enter the US, while world number two Alexander Zverev has withdrawn as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.
You can share this story on social media: