- About the tournament
- Ecology Day
Two namesakes – the CEO of the St. Petersburg Open 2019 Alexander Medvedev and the top seed of the tournament Daniil Medvedev – gathered a full hall during their joint press-conference, which was held on Sunday, September 15, at the press-center of the “SIBUR ARENA” stadium. We bring to your attention the most interesting questions and answers given to them during that press conference.
Daniil, how do you feel? Have you had a chance to rest a bit? With what attitude did you arrive?
Daniil Medvedev: In fact, I feel very good. I traveled with my wife to Montenegro; we rested as much as possible. And yesterday I arrived here. Yesterday I trained for the first time after the finals (US Open 2019). I feel great, it feels like nothing hurts. I am in a fighting spirit. The one task left is to get in a good shape, but I think that these days are enough for that.
Alexander, how do you find the fact that world №4 is going to take part in the tournament?
Alexander Medvedev: We have not seen for a long time two Russian tennis players in the Top10 and play in the same tournament. And now both Daniil [Medvedev] and Karen [Khachanov] are in the Top10, both are playing with us, despite Daniil’s recent performance in the US Open finals and the birth of a child. Not the birth of Daniil’s child, but Karen’s child (laughter). This is very rewarding and demonstrates that the tournament enjoys high prestige.
What football challenges have your prepared for Daniil?
A. M.: It’s still a secret. There will be at least 3 challenges, can be even 4. At Gazprom Arena we will compete against two of our legendary football players – Andrei Arshavin and Alexander Kerzhakov. And since Malcolm has not yet recovered from his injury after recently moving from Barçelona to Zenit, he will also participate in the challenge. Let’s see how Malcolm do with kicking tennis balls (laughter).
Question to Alexander were you supporting Daniil throughout the whole US Open tournament? Or maybe at some point you thought that the longer he played there, the greater was the chance that he would not come to the tournament in St. Petersburg?
A.M.: I will answer that question absolutely honestly and frankly: I wanted Daniil not only to reach the final, but also to beat Rafa [Nadal] there. And I had no doubts Daniil would come to play at our tournament. He is a true professional and a great athlete. The main thing for him is to stay injury-free.
A question about Stan Wawrinka – he was planning to come. Why he is not here, what’s the reason?
A.M .: Yesterday morning while I was at the training session of Zenit football club, Stan [Wawrinka] called me. For all his desire to play at our tournament, the inflammation in his leg he’s been struggling with over the last few days didn’t allow to take his flight. We know how much Stan loves this tournament. How he played here last year, we remember his final here. But, unfortunately, injuries are just such a thing … It happens and there isn’t much you can do about it. But he said that he will play at the tournament next year.
Daniil, for how many days have you not seen a tennis racket after the US Open finals?
D.M.: I have not played tennis for a week. I played the finals last Sunday, today I practiced for the first time after that final. Anyway, I read the news, watched various videos about tennis, so I did see a tennis racket, but tried to see it as little as possible. My wife and I spent three days in Montenegro. I arrived on Wednesday morning and departed on Saturday. And so, last night I arrived here.
Two questions to Daniil. The first question is – after such a busy season, what tournaments do you plan to play before the end of the year – keeping in mind the ATP Finals in London? And the second question is rather psychological. A load of popularity has fallen on you, one might even say fame, this can be seen from today’s public reaction during the draw ceremony. How do you deal with popularity and increased media attention? And then your interview with VOGUE-Russia was published. What do you do to make sure you are not dizzy with success so that it doesn’t interfere with further professional growth in your career?
D.M.: I can say that in principle I plan to play all the tournaments which I entered – St. Petersburg, two strong Chinese tournaments in Beijing and Shanghai. I entered Moscow (the Kremlin Cup) and I wanna play it. I wann play in Vienna and Paris, too, to be ready for the indoor hard season. Depending on the results and physical condition, this can all be adjusted. But so far, the plan looks like this. As to my popularity… Naturally, it has come to my life, makes no sense to hide or deny it. But for me the most important thing in real life is to remain the same person as I was with my close people, my family before. It is the most important thing. Anyway, you see me here, you see me like that. But I am a different person in real life. It’s important to stay the same person you were with your family before. Then it will help you on the tennis court, because you know that this fame and popularity have not changed you.
Alexander, can the tournament in the future upgrade its category to ATP500?
A.M.: I do not remove this topic from the agenda. Tennis is a traditional sport, somewhat conservative. Although reforms in this sport have already begun – for example, the Davis Cup reform. Most likely, reform of the Federation Cup and the Hopman Cup will follow up. We see how the ranking system has changed for second-echelon players who are trying to get their place under the sun. The reforms in football follow the same pattern -they are aimed at ensuring that there are as many high-level matches as possible. If our tournament belonged in the ATP500 category, it would be easier for us to attract Top10 players. It’s a shame we de facto have a tournament with such s a strong lineup but our participants can’t earn the same ranking points that they could get at an ATP500 event. We are trying to find a “window” of opportunity in the tournament calendar or make an exchange with someone, but on the other hand, everyone likes this week in September, it’s a golden autumn outside, our guests have a great opportunity to appreciate the beauties of St. Petersburg during this time of the year .
Alexander, do you think it’s time for a generational change in tennis, and when, in your opinion, will your neighbor to the left (Daniil Medvedev) become World’s № 1?
A.M.: Well, I don’t know, is there still a chance this season? (laughter)
D.M.: No longer (laughter)
A.M.: Even in the presence of Daniil, I can say this because I’m sure that his head will not spin. Daniil has a great tennis future ahead of him and it is worth fighting for something in tennis, it’s definitely for winning a Grand Slam tournament. Well, being World №1 in the rankings is of special prestige. And its good that young people are pushing the veterans. They are powerful young guns. But on top of sheer power and strong serves, you also need to have a head in order to feel and understand the game. I think that we are all attracted by Danill’s smart tennis
Daniil, a trivial question regarding the draw ceremony. What do you make of its results and your eventual results in this particular tournament? And the second question is more global: Mikhail Youzhny said that now The Big Three – Djokovic, Nadal and Federer – have to carefully study your weak points in order to try to beat you. And even that might not guarantee success. What do you think of his statement comparing your game level to the class of the Big Three?
D.M.: Let’s start with the draw ceremony. In fact, it’s quite interesting: four Russian players entered this tournament, and three of them are in the same quarter of the draw. That is, there could be many Russian derbies. A month ago I played with Karen and Andrey, now in my draw there are Russians again – Evgeny Donskoy and Andrey Rublev. This draw is pretty serious, but I hope it would be interesting for the spectators, not only at the stadium, but also for the TV-audience. The main thing for me now is to get into shape. I think I can handle it. We’ll see in the first round whether I can do it or not. As for Mikhail Youzhny’s statement, it’s hard to say something. I’m sure they used to study my weak spots even for the very first match I played against any of the The Big Three, they try to figure out how to play against me. This is their strength, they all carefully preparing for each opponent. I do exactly the same: I prepare for each opponent, I study their strengths and weaknesses with my coach, think over strategies and my game plan. I always say that in the first match against them even during the warm-up you feel that they are playing in a different way. I cannot explain this, but they play differently. And the one who won the smallest number of Slams – “only” sixteen (Djokovic) – he did something incredible. When Sampras won fourteen Slams, everyone said that this was a phenomenal record and no one would beat it, but three people have come and simply crushed this record. The most important thing is the experience of playing with them. For example, in my first match against Rafa I took only three games, I lost in an hour or something, left the court upset, easily defeated. Meanwhile in our second match (in US Open finals) I tried to change something in my game, to find something, and I think I did it, and he had to try pretty hard. In fact they all do.
Two more short questions. Your wife is always very reserved while watching your matches. Does she get emotional after the match? Does she yell at you? And the second question is: what is the most valuable advice she gave you in tennis?
D.M.: She played tennis as well, up to eighteen years old, and played quite well. I cannot remember exactly what ranking in Russia she had. Probably, she was ranked 50th or 60th. So she understands tennis on the level I am. So concerning emotions during the match – it turns out that the less emotional I am, the better it is for me, so the whole team of mine knows that the fewer emotions they show, the better it is for me as well. So I won’t be nervous, I won’t get wild. Therefore, we work for everyone’s benefit, we are a team, everyone knows what I need to feel well. And after matches, she, of course, can tell me something, but she does not yell at me, there is no such a thing among us. The most valuable advice she gave me? I should tell a story which happened during the tournament in Washington last season, it was only a year ago. I practiced trained with Lucas Pouille, we played with a score. And apparently something went wrong for me on that day, I lost at love (0/6) even though I was fighting for every point, trying to win, but I failed. She was on the grandstand, watching the game and she was saying: “You can be a Top10, you can play better.” And I went: “How do you mean?! It’s hard!”. And throughout the whole training session I kept telling her: “How am I going to be a Top10?! Just look at the way people play, I can’t win even a single game!” But the most valuable advice was not even advice. Most importantly, she believed in me, she kept saying that I could do it, that I had to work harder. And in the end it worked out well.
Alexander, is it hard to combine the post of CEO of SPB Open and the post of CEO of FC Zenit? Does one interfere with the other?
A.M.: If I list all my functions, the answer will take much longer. There is an old wisdom, as I already told Daniil: the best way to rest is to change the type of activity, switching from one type to another. And the most important thing is to have a good team, where people know what they are responsible for, and you can trust them and delegate expecting them to deliver. Thus I get some free time for other types of activities. And sports management – whether it is hockey, football or tennis – has many common traits despite specifics. I like it; I have the strength to do it.
In his yesterday’s interview with the tournament press-service, Evgeny Donskoy said that with guys like our Russian trio Medvedev-Khachanov-Rublev, Russian can fight for the title in Davis Cup. What do you think about it?
D.М.: That’s for sure. Spain has such a strong team, but if we look at the average ranking of the two top players of Spain and Russia, we get like an average 6 for the Spaniards and 6.5 for our country. Obviously, we have a great potential. Although it is much harder to play Davis Cup ties because there is a completely different atmosphere, a completely different psychological pressure. As for me, in everything that I do, I need experience. And I think that I already gained a lot of this kind of experience playing ties for the national team. I hope that I will only play better (in Davis Cup), that I will play the way I play in individual tournaments. We have every opportunity to win the Davis Cup and the ATP Cup.
Are you saying that despite the physical load we will see you on the national team?
D.М.: Most likely, yes. But it’s something that can change any day. A new day is a new physical condition.
А.М.: The main thing is to avoid injuries, especially now when the new format of Davis Cup was introduced. The event in Madrid will determine how the new Davis Cup will be fairing. When I was in New York, I met Gerard Piqué – by the way, he plays tennis well, we checked that out (laughter). He is clearly very concerned with his colleagues about it, because it was such a big deal to change the format of the Davis Cup, as tennis is a conservative sport, but nevertheless the new format was endorsed by a majority of votes. This is no longer just talking, this is a real thing now. And now when the world’s best national teams will compete for the Davis Cup during one week, it’s essential that all our players are healthy and able to participate, so that we could bring back the title we had won more than once.
Daniil, you reached four finals in a row in America, but you have never played in a finals at home, and the best result you showed in Russia was reaching the semifinals in Moscow. How important is it for you to win a tournament in your homeland?
D.М.: The most important for me is to win every match I play. Of course, I really want at least to get to the finals in Russia, and then try to win the tournament here. I always loved to play in my homeland; all my first best results were in Russia. I remember here, in St. Petersburg, I qualified several years ago, and then got into the first round of the main draw, beating Alexander Bublik, and lost to Alexander Zverev even though there was every chance for me there to win at least one set. As I said, I love playing in Russia. I hope there will be a lot of support, there will be a big crowd, and hopefully I can show my best tennis.
Alexander, last season (Russian footballer) Artem Dzyuba wanted to take part in an exhibition match within this tennis tournament. Is there any chance he will play this year?
А.М.: The FC Zenit’s calendar looks like this: on Tuesday there is a match against the Olympique Lyonnais from Lyon, and the team will leave tomorrow for this match, so we won’t see him (Dzyuba), but we can make Malcom play as an alternate. And on Saturday, the day of tennis semifinals, Zenit is to play a match against FC Rubin Kazan. If everything goes well, I guess we will see Artem playing tennis on Sunday. We’ll provide him with a wild card (laughter).
Daniil, commentators of the TV channel Eurosport have repeatedly noted that you graduated from a Physics and Mathematics Lyceum, and this education helps you a lot on the court. Is this really so? How do you use this (education) on the court?
D.М.: I don’t know. It’s difficult for me to figure out if this helps me on the court or not. I can’t say that if I hadn’t studied there, I wouldn’t choose tactics so well or wouldn’t change it so quickly during the match, and would find the opponent’s weaknesses. I can’t answer this question, because I did study there and I can’t change that, so I don’t know how it would be if I didn’t have this education. In any case, I think it helped me in many other areas of life, not necessarily in tennis.
The great and mighty Rafael Nadal played against you at the US Open finals, what did you feel before that match? Were your legs trembling with fear?
D.М.: Definitely not. Everything I have achieved, and every match I play is thanks to my hard work and persistence. I just was very happy to play on the court in the presence of twenty thousand fans who were eager to see the clash. And that’s why in the third set, even when Nadal was converting break-points, I fought for every ball, because that’s what I was there for – you saw yourself how I turned the tide in that match! I wasn’t afraid of playing against him: I wanted to give Nadal a hard time, and in the end I did it, although I was close to losing without a fight (in three sets instead of five).
In a recent interview published by Championat.com web-site your Russian coach Ivan Pridankin recalled that when you were 12-year old you played strategically well and could give a hard time to the opponent with even a better technique than yours. Is it fair to say that the basics of your tennis were laid here in Russia? Of course, later you honed your game in France, and you have Gilles Cervara as your coach there, but how do you evaluate the role in your tennis career of your Russian coaches? You can address them now as every word of yours is reported by the media.
D.М.: For sure I got the basics of my tennis here in Russia, no question about it. In any case, I moved to France at the age of eighteen, so I definitely got the most important t basic skills in Russia. Many thanks to my first coach – Ekaterina Kryuchkova. The most important thing she taught everyone in her group was to fight for every point. And she had a golden rule in tennis (although for many children it was a so-so rule, because everyone started to lob an opponent over) – you need to hit the ball over the net one time more than your opponent, only in this way you can win a match. And I learned this lesson. This is why I’m still playing it match by match. We are still on good terms with (Russian coaches) Ivan Pridankin, and also with Igor Chelyshev who had trained me for a long time. First, it was Igor Chelyshev who trained me, and then they combined their work with Ivan [Pridankin]. There is a huge input of my Russian coaches in almost everything you can see in my game now.
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