Rock­et­ing star Medvedev re­vives Rus­sia’s ten­nis hopes

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

MOSCOW (AFP) — Daniil Medvedev, Rus­sia’s num­ber one ten­nis player, on Mon­day signed caps and ten­nis balls for fans in his na­tive city of Moscow, hours af­ter land­ing from China, where he won the Shang­hai Masters Sun­day.

Af­ter a pe­riod in the dol­drums, Rus­sian ten­nis is now in­fused with a new gen­er­a­tion of young male play­ers and Medvedev, 23, is lead­ing the pack, now at a ca­reer-best of fourth in the world.

Tired af­ter a long flight and ad­mit­ting he was sur­viv­ing on cof­fee, Medvedev posed for self­ies with fans.

“I do feel there’s a lot of sup­port com­ing from Rus­sia. it’s huge and it’s great,” he told AFP. “A lot of sup­port com­ing from so­cial me­dia (and) sup­port from my friends, be­cause most of my friends are still Rus­sian guys.”

Fans hailed his in­flu­ence. “The main thing is that ten­nis is be­com­ing more pop­u­lar in Rus­sia thanks to him,” said one fan, 19-year-old stu­dent Daniil Tre­filov.

Tre­filov hopes to watch Medvedev play in the city’s Krem­lin Cup this week — Medvedev said he will de­cide on Tues­day if he will par­tic­i­pate.

Another fan, David Umarkhadzh­iyev who leads an on­line group of Rus­sian sup­port­ers, said he “fell in love with the game” from watch­ing Medvedev play.

“Af­ter (Marat) Safin and (Yevgeny) Kafel­nikov there was a kind of stag­na­tion,” Umarkhadzh­iyev said, re­fer­ring to top play­ers of past decades.

“There were no men and sud­denly one or two years ago, Medvedev, (Karen) Khachanov and (An­drei) Rublev ap­peared.”

The trio are Rus­sia’s top-rank­ing men’s play­ers and Medvedev says they share a healthy ri­valry.

“We have a great com­pe­ti­tion be­tween us three guys and we re­ally push each other.”

Speak­ing flu­ent English and French as well as Rus­sian, he looks tanned and re­laxed but his eyes some­times half-close from fa­tigue.

Be­yond ri­valry with fel­low Rus­sian play­ers, Medvedev is now chal­leng­ing the dom­i­nance of ten­nis’s big three much older play­ers: Rafael Nadal, Roger Fed­erer and No­vak Djokovic.

“Th­ese guys are just from another planet, we have to ad­mit it, they are re­ally strong and we are try­ing our best to beat them,” he said.

AP-Yon­hap

Daniil Medvedev of Rus­sia cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning against Alexan­der Zverev of Ger­many dur­ing their men’s fi­nal at the Shang­hai Masters ten­nis tour­na­ment at Qizhong For­est Sports City Ten­nis Cen­ter in Shang­hai, China, Sun­day.

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