October 24-31, SIBUR ARENA #tennisagainstcoronavirus

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10.10.2020, 16:20 #News #Best

On Saturday, October 10, a press-conference was held at the SIBUR ARENA stadium with the participation of St. Petersburg Open general director Alexander Medvedev and his namesake, the reigning champion of the tournament and the leader of Russian men’s tennis Daniil Medvedev.

— Alexander Ivanovich, what do you think of the draw?

Alexander Medvedev: The draw ceremony was spectacular and eye-pleasing. Few tournaments use modern telecommunications for public transmission of the draw, but we did. We also had spectators who came to SIBUR ARENA to watch the draw live, and there were those who watched it online. It is better to ask the tennis players about the pairs of opponents in R1.

— Daniil, what do you think about the lineup of the tournament, the draw and your opponents here?

Daniil Medvedev: Judging by the draw, the lineup is very strong. Of course, there have been several withdrawals, but this is quite understandable, because this tournament is played indoors on hard, and comes immediately after the clay major, and this is always difficult to switch from one surface to another. I got a difficult draw, but sometimes it’s better to start a tournament with tough opponents (in the first round Medvedev plays against the  French player Richard Gasquet). I will have to show my best game at the tournament from the get go. In any case, I always have a philosophical attitude towards the draw – I can’t change its results, so I am just preparing for my next opponent. I hope to show a good tennis.

— Do you feel additional pressure being the reigning champion of the tournament? Your local crowd as well as spectators from all over Russia expect you to repeat last year’s result.

D. M.: Naturally, there is some pressure, of course, but I know that a lot depends on tennis. If I show good tennis, I will have a good result. I can play tennis, and if something doesn’t go well, then you can lose, so it’s a pressure on myself that you can feel during the match.

— The tournament was announced as a star-studded event.  It still is, but there were several withdrawals. In your opinion, how logical they were? There is an opinion that it is quite difficult for some players to play on hard after such a grueling clay tournament like Roland Garros.

A.M.: Definitely. Players had to prepare for this switch of surface in advance. Stefanos Tsitsipas played in the semifinals of Roland Garros. I know that he was eager to play against Daniil here. We talked with his relatives. He went far at Roland Garros, which is unfortunate for our tournament. Of course, it’s really good for him, but it is very difficult to switch from clay to hard with practically no opportunity to train. The earliest when he could be in St. Petersburg would be Sunday. He would have to take the COVID-19 test and only after that he could have arrived at the arena, so the situation with his withdrawal is understandable. Nishikori wasn’t able to make it to the tournament due to his shoulder injury. A number of other players withdrew due to their participation in the French Open. It was not easy to get to St. Petersburg, although we did everything we could in regards to the logistics. Someone flew in on a charter flight, someone on scheduled flights. The logistics is very difficult now. Those who entered the tournament at the last moment – they all arrived.

Daniil, are you disappointed with the absence of Tsitsipas at the tournament? Can we that he is your sworn rival-friend, with whom you have sorted out relationships on the court more than once? Have you watched his fight with Djokovic? Can you say something about this semifinal at the French Open?

D. M.: In my opinion, yesterday’s match Djokovic v Tsitsipas was the second match at the Roland Garros 2020 I watched. It was yesterday, I was in my hotel room, the test results hadn’t come yet, so there was nothing to do, and I watched this match. It seemed that Djokovic would win easily, but in the end Tsitsipas showed a great game. This match reminded me somehow of my match against Nadal (in the finals of the US Open 2019). Even though I wasn’t saving a match-point back then, it still looked like I was on the brink of defeat. And then I started playing in a completely different way, I got relaxed. Stefanos played very well. It’s a shame that he could not win in the fifth set, but Novak is a great champion, so despite the fact that it was hard for him, it was clear that he could win due to the fact that he is a true champion. With respect to the absence of Tsitsipas here, I believe that the stronger the tournament is, the better. For the first time the tournament was awarded the ATP 500 category. Any player from the top 10, top 20, who withdrew, it is a loss for the tournament anyway, but I will not single out any of these withdrawals.

Alexander Ivanovich, will you watch the Roland Garros finals Nadal v Djokovic. If so, who will you root for?

D. M.: Yes, I will watch it. I am well acquainted with both of these tennis players and would love to watch the match. My sympathies are with Djokovic for this match.

– A question about the situation at this tournament: we are all saying today, and this was also mentioned at the draw ceremony, that this tournament is being held under difficult pandemic conditions, and we have to wear masks and gloves to protect ourselves from the virus. Daniil you were in the American in that “ bubble” in New York and here, too, you’re wearing a mask. Compare the safety requirements here and there? And how different is the US Open 2020?

D. M.: Actually it’s very similar. The only thing is that all the Slams have even more security guards: every step you make you security guard, and you can’t take an extra step without them. Here, too, everything is very serious: you come to the hotel, immediately take the test, go to your room; you cannot go anywhere before the result would arrive. They are good ” bubbles” both there and there. I think that all tennis players feel safe and everyone is doing great. The food here at the Four Seasons is definitely much better than at the US Open – I’ll tell you for sure.

What exactly is better?

D. M: Taste, quality, variety. Everything is better.

Alexander, what are the chances of the tournament to keep the ATP 500 category? You got it, this tournament deserves this category but what are the odds for preserving  the ATP 500 category?

D. M.: We need to hold this tournament at the same high level as we did it as an ATP 250 tournament. If this happens, we will be able to raise the question with the ATP about keeping the ATP 500 category. And I have no doubts that we will hold the tournament at the highest level.

When did you come to St. Petersburg, Daniil? Tell us about your adaptation after Roland Garros? How long does it take to get used to hard after the Parisian clay?

D. M.: I arrived yesterday and I had my first practice here today. I will try to train as much as possible to prepare for the tournament. I want to say that clay is not my favorite surface, so it takes me much more time and much more effort to adapt to clay (than to adapt to the hard surface). I didn’t have enough time to prepare for the clay after the US Open this year. It seems to me that two or three days are enough to be ready to play the tournament when you are switching from clay to hard, so I feel that I am ready. Will see during the matches but I think I’ll be 100% ready.

Gilles Cervara your coach is here in St. Petersburg with you, isn’t he?

D. M.: Yes, Gilles is here with me.

The main trophy of the St. Petersburg Open returned to Russia last year after a fifteen-year hiatus. All of  the tennis fan are happy with it. Alexander, in your opinion what are the chances of the same result this year?

D. M.: We all dream about it, especially since this year the three top Russian players are here: Medvedev, Rublev and Khachanov. They are ready to fight for the title. So this year we have a good chance that the trophy of the tournament will stay in Russia.

Daniil, today during the main draw ceremony you said that you are glad that the fans are allowed to the stadium. There is a limited amount of fans but still they are allowed to come. What would you like to wish them in terms of tennis and in terms of their own safety in the context of the coronavirus pandemic?

D. M.: It seems to me that everyone already knows it all about the safety rules: you should wear a mask, keep the social distance, avoid shaking hands and hugging. I hope that all players will show good tennis. I hope that there will be some thrilling matches and fans will watch them. Now it is easier to fill the stadium because not everyone is allowed in. I hope that all the tickets will be sold out.

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