Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev at the 2021 Australian Open
Daniil Medvedev marched into the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open on Friday with a 6-1, 6-1 thrashing of Pablo Carreno Busta. And in his post-match press conference, Medvedev was asked whether he believed he had a chance of winning this year’s US Open, given the absence of a whole bunch of top players.
In response, the Russian asserted that Novak Djokovic was still a heavy favorite no matter the strength of the draw. Medvedev claimed there would be a lot of pressure on Djokovic’s shoulders as the top contender, but added that that was unlikely to make much of a difference as the Serb thrives on pressure.
The season’s final Major kicks off on 30 August, but the men’s field will be missing several big names. On Friday, 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal announced his withdrawal and called time on the rest of the season due to a foot injury.
Nadal is the latest big name to pull out of the US Open, joining Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem, Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro on the absentee list.
Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, will go into the US Open having played only one tournament since winning Wimbledon. That one tournament was the Tokyo Olympics, where Djokovic lost the singles bronze medal match and pulled out of the mixed doubles playoff due to injury.
But Daniil Medvedev believes the Serb is still the firm favorite in New York since he has been “winning almost all the Grand Slams” lately.
“Definitely, Novak is going to be the highest contender,” Medvedev said. “He’s winning almost all the Grand Slams right now. He won already 20. He has experience. He has a level. I’m not gonna lie.” “So he’s the man under pressure, but I think he likes it, as some guys under pressure can crack,” the Russian added. “That’s not about Novak. So he’s definitely the main contender.”
Daniil Medvedev, who lost a close five-setter to Nadal in the 2019 US Open final, has been in great form over the last few weeks. The 25-year-old won the Toronto Masters last week and has looked at his absolute best in Cincinnati, where he has extended his winning streak to eight matches.
Medvedev’s strong run has given him plenty of self-belief, and he expressed hope of “going far” in New York this year.
“Talking about myself, first of all, if I meet Novak, it’s good because it’s going to be only in the final,” Medvedev said. “That’s the only possibility. I’m going to try to do my best. If I manage to keep the level I’m playing at right now, I have good chances to go far.”
The Russian did point out, however, that several things will need to fall into place for him to win his first Grand Slam in New York.
“One day you might feel not as good,” Medvedev said. “You’re going to get an opponent who is going to play his best match of the life. You can have tough quarters, because quarters is where you get somebody from 5 till 8, and they can lose before, or it can be maybe somebody who you prefer of these four guys. It’s all about small, small details.” “I just want to play good,” he added. “When I play good in New York I can do good results, and of course, I want to win it. That’s every tournament is the same thing for me.”
“You need to keep focused, because Andrey Rublev puts in a lot of intensity” – Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev at the 2021 Australian Open
Daniil Medvedev will aim to extend his unbeaten run to nine matches when he takes on fellow Russian Andrey Rublev in the semifinals on Saturday. Medvedev asserted he will have a tough match on his hands because of Rublev’s “intensity”, and that he’d have to make use of every opportunity that comes his way.
“You need to keep focused, because Andrey puts in a lot of intensity,” Medvedev said. “I need to be there all the points, because one small opportunity he gives me where he doesn’t hit full power, I try to use it, I try to take it. Of course I try to hit shots that he will not be able to attack because that’s his game. That’s normal against any player in the world, you try to get him out of the comfort zone. Sometimes you succeed; sometimes not. That’s what I’m going to try to do tomorrow.”
Medevdev owns a perfect 4-0 head-to-head record against Rublev; in fact, he is yet to lose a set against his countryman. But the World No. 2 stressed that he wouldn’t be taking things lightly on Saturday, despite what may have happened in the past.
“Definitely a lot of intensity in the match, because that’s how he plays,” Medvedev said. “Turns around with the forehand, tries to hit it as strong as possible. Serves well, returns well, especially the second serve. Always a tough matchup. When you play a top-10 player, no matter who, no matter what head-to-head you have, it’s always a new match where top players meet and everybody can win.”