I DON’T WANT TO LOSE BECAUSE I GET CRAZY – The Medvedev Interview
A lot has been made of you playing a villain. Did you grow up with pro wrestling?
DANIIL MEDVEDEV: It’s funny because actually when I was six or seven, I liked wrestling because I thought it was for real. My parents were like, ‘Why are you watching this? This is just a show.’ I was like, ‘No, they’re fighting for real.’ But I don’t think it has any impact…As I said before, I want to be a better person than a few days here.
You’ve now candidly said you want to become a better person.
MEDVEDEV: On the court. Off the court, I think I’m okay (smiling).
You seem mellow;, you have a nice smile. Can you tell the tennis public what kind of person you are?
MEDVEDEV: I’m a really calm person in life. I actually have no idea why the demons go out when I play. When I was a junior, I had a lot of problems with my attitude. I was not getting defaulted, but I was getting a [lot of] game penalties…I was working hard because every time I do something wrong, I’m sitting with myself [and I’d say] I’m not like this…Why does it happen? I don’t want it to happen like this.
So I’ve been working a lot on it, and I’ve improved a lot. Sometimes it still happens…[In] normal life, to make me angry, you need to do something crazy for one week in a row. You need to come to my hotel, knock on my door at 6:00 in the morning for seven days in a row. Then I’m going to be maybe mad a little bit.
You seem to have won the crowd over. If they end up booing you on Sunday, how would you feel?
MEDVEDEV: I’d be surprised, but I would have to take the energy and go again with this energy.
I’m not proud of what I did. I’m working to never do it again. But…things like this happen sometimes with me. I question myself, ‘Why does it happen?’ I think I got a lot of answers, and I’m trying to not do this again.
You said you’ve been working on your mindset. In what ways?
MEDVEDEV: With a mental coach. She’s helping me a lot. To be honest, my wife helps me a lot. Again, just sitting there with myself.
I lost a lot of matches in my career when I was getting crazy. You never know, when you lose a match, [whether it is] because you lost it or because you get crazy and lost concentration. You can never be sure.
I was sitting after these matches, I was like, I don’t want to lose these matches because I get crazy or because I lose concentration because of the referee…I want to lose matches because I was a worse tennis player on court…[When I was young] there were many who said…the guy is completely crazy, he’s never going to be a good player…I’m glad I proved them wrong.
You gave a couple sarcastic thumbs up to Gilles in your box today?
MEDVEDEV: It’s just usual. That’s actually one of the things that I should get rid of also. Usually when I do it, it means that mentally…I’m not 100% calm. But Gilles knows very well how I feel…He’s told me a lot of stories about himself…It helps me a lot to also understand how emotions go in the human mind.
BOO BIRDS: Open fans were booing the service faults of controversial Daniil Medvedev, who scored an efficient 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Grigor Dimitrov to reach the Open finals. This is the fourth straight big North American final the surging Russian has reached.
BIANCA’S BREAKTHROUGHS: Here’s a timeline of Andreescu’s breakout year:
- Loses first round of 2018 US Open qualies
- Starts 2019 with wins over Wozniacki and Venus en route to Auckland final.
- In March, loses in the semis of the Mexico Open to Sonya Kenin. But she has not lost a completed match since.
- Downs Angie Kerber to win Indian Wells and is the first woman wildcard to do so. It’s her big breakthrough.
- Retires in Miami and then sits out for two months with a shoulder injury. During this time she turns 19.
- Tries to play the French Open, but withdraws after the first round.
- In August, wins her home tourney, the Roger’s Cup. In the final, Serena withdrew with back spasms.
- Enters the US Open with a 38-4 record. Saturday she plays the final against Serena.
GENERATION GAP: The 18-year gap between Serena and Andreescu is the biggest gap in history between US Open finalists.
COVER GIRL: Earlier this summer, Serena was on the covers of Forbes and Harper’s Bazaar. Now, after a hushed editorial meeting, Inside Tennis has decided if Serena wins the final she’ll be on the cover of our next issue, just like she was 20 years ago when she first won the Open.
SERENA STATS: Serena is hoping to win her seventh Open and has won 101 Open matches, which is equal with Chris Evert and more than any other man or woman. Serena’s lifetime record at Slams is 343-48. Before the Open, Andreescu’s lifetime Slam record was 2-2.
GO FIGURE: Every time Rafa has been the only member of the Big Three in the semis of a Slam, he’s won.
ANGIE’S HISS: Some say Serena is the biggest drama queen in women’s sports. But Angie Kerber, who within days twice lost to Bianca Andreescu, thinks otherwise. In Miami, she told Bianca, “You’re the biggest drama queen ever.”
OF SAMPRAS, AGASSI AND FEDERER: Semifinalist Dimitrov has a leaping overhead like Sampras, is coached by Agassi and has groundies that are suggestive of Federer.
BELA-RUSE: No, fans, it’s not a ruse, there are two players from Belarus into the women’s doubles final: two-time Slam champ Vika Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka. But they aren’t playing together. Sabalenka’s partner is Belgian Elise Mertens and Vika’s teammate is Aussie Ash Barty. They face off in the finals tomorrow.
CABAL AND FARAH GO BACK-TO-BACK: The No. 1 men’s doubles seeds Juan Sebastián Cabal and Robert Farah followed up their dramatic Wimbledon victory with a win over Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.
ROMANIA ROCKS: If Andreescu wins the final, it will mean a player of Romanian heritage will win back-to-back Slams. Simona Halep prevailed at Wimbledon this year.
SOMEHOW WE THINK THIS RELATES TO A FEARLESS KID NAMED ANDREESCU: Aristotle said, “Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible.”
AFRICA AWAKES THIS MORNING: The death of Zimbabwe’s former President Robert Mugabe brings to mind one of the most intriguing episodes of American tennis in Africa.
Unlike the beloved tennis fan Nelson Mandela, Mugabe went from being a young brave freedom fighter to a ruthless dictator who reigned with an iron fist for 30 long, brutal years. In 2000, America’s Davis Cup team went to Harare to face Zimbabwe.
John McEnroe was our captain. Andre Agassi led the team. Many media, including Bud Collins, Brad Gilbert and Inside Tennis were on hand. The draw was held in the heavily guarded Presidential Palace. Machine guns were everywhere – it was scary. Mugabe was nervous. He was on an international stage – what a unique platform. He wanted to impress the world and mute his loud critics. In a country estate, he read a well-crafted speech to show off his tennis cred.
The matches were played in a small, funky 4,000 seat hockey arena that leaked. The crowd was led by a colorful dancing clown. Judy Levering, who was then the President of the USTA, told IT today, “I was just hoping that anybody who wanted to get him wouldn’t try and do it there, because I sat right next to him the whole time.” A fan who was an American military attache held up a sign that read, “Hi Mom, Send Fuel.” Mugabe was incensed. He and his wife stormed out. The US narrowly won 3-2 and I soon headed to the African outback near Kruger Park and felt the singular power of an inspired continent and saw elephants, leopards, rhinos, hippos, giraffes and a stunning lion kill an impala. I wrote this poem about the power of that land and its beasts.
Africa awakens this morning,
a light dew embraces the land:
rolling plains think with grasses
rise to gentle slopes that yield
a stunning panorama
that defies time, yet touches the spirit.
The Sand River slowly flows: a hippo stares,
the hidden lion sleeps. What dreams touch her soul?
The Savannah is never silent, it just seems that way.
Time stops. Yet all the quiet, the breathless beauty awaits a certain terror.
Death is a given. Yet we are drawn. What is this place: this ancient font, fabled source, so intimate, so impenetrable? We see this place, will we ever know this place?
Another day in Africa yields to the darkness, while the distant lightning, silent above the hills, tells of another power beyond. And those sands, those soft sands of the river. Watch, knowing time will go on.