The misfortune of some is the happiness of others: after losing in the quarterfinals in Dubai, Novak Djokovic left his world number one crown to Daniil Medvedev, the strong and uninhibited Russian, who will now have to ‘face it. new state.
He will not officially ascend the ATP throne until Monday, but Daniil Medvedev could already be delighted on Thursday to have won his long-distance duel with Djokovic.
“It’s not easy to play a game when you learn that during the day,” said the Russian, who qualified for the semifinals in Acapulco after beating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2, 6-3.
At the age of 26, he puts an end to the rule of four giants: for the first time since 2004, the head of the ATP escapes one of the members of the “Big 4”, namely Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.
The Moscow native will also find the Spaniard in the semi-finals in Mexico, less than a month after his clash in the final of the Australian Open which had turned in favor of the Mallorcan in the 5th set while Medvedev had led 2 sets to 0.
The Russian, who was crowned at Flushing Meadows five months earlier, had then missed the opportunity to become the first Open-era player (since 1968) to win two first Grand Slam titles in quick succession.
But during his fortnight in Australia, he had also been able to get out of some dangerous situations, proof of a new maturity.
– “He was crazy!” –
It was a bit of a coincidence that the slender Russian (1.98 m) came across a racket in his hand at the age of nine. While taking him to a swimming lesson, his mother Olga came across an advertisement for tennis lessons and his father Sergey, a computer engineer, thought that the idea of enrolling him there was good.
Little did he know, then, that snowshoes would cost him dearly. Because when things get out of hand, your child turns out to be a real ball of nerves.
“He was crazy!” He confessed to L’Equipe newspaper in 2019. “You can’t imagine what he was like until he was 19 … I don’t know where he came from, but around the age of 10, I started do anything on the track “.
“I was screaming, crying, breaking rackets … I did everything you can imagine. I never liked being like that. From the age of 14, I could lose a lot of games because of that attitude. And after every defeat, I thought “It’s been a long time coming,” he said.
After studying physics, mathematics, then trade, this sports fan, especially in “Fifa”, ended up devoting himself entirely to tennis. And with his parents, since the family went to live with him in Antibes in 2014.
He was then 18 years old, joined the Elite Tennis Center in Cannes and met the man who is still his coach, the Frenchman Gilles Cervara.
– Your middle finger –
Medvedev was still a stranger in 2017, when he played his first Wimbledon and stood out. He won in the 2nd round, tossing coins at the feet of the chair referee to challenge a decision.
But he ends up understanding that this attitude doesn’t help him. Just before the 2019 U.S. Open, the Russian explains that he uses a mental trainer to help him channel himself. “It works a lot of times. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a game where I’m suddenly completely scared.”
It happened at the US Open that year. In front of the Spaniard Feliciano López, he was classified under the boos of Louis Armstrong, after snatching his towel from the hands of a ball boy, throwing the racket towards his chair and stretching a middle finger in front of the camera. . “Thank you all, the more you whistle at me, the more energy you give me,” he said.
“I’ve been an idiot. I’m working to be a better man on the track,” he later apologized. The whistles will only stop in the final, a titanic fight finally lost against Christmas.
The ice cooled the fire in Medvedev’s veins, who also took advantage of the strong defeat in the Australian Open final in February 2021 against Djokovic, then against Nadal this year, to turn a corner.
After stealing the No. 1 spot in the first, he can take “(s) revenge” in Acapulco against the second. And show ahead of time who the new king is.
AFP / Acapulco (Mexico) (AFP) / © 2022 AFP