Daniil Medvedev had simply gained the largest title of his profession, “the perfect victory” of his life on the ATP Finals, however didn’t have a good time.
As an alternative, he simply regarded to his field, shrugged, emptied a ball from his pocket, shrugged once more earlier than strolling expressionless to satisfy his crushed opponent Dominic Thiem on the internet.
And if he wins many extra titles, even considered one of tennis’ Grand Slams, he says he’ll do the identical once more.
“That’s going to be my factor,” the 24-year-old Russian stated after Sunday’s 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 win in London.
“In tennis I feel I in all probability am the primary one, undoubtedly in soccer I’ve seen gamers who don’t have a good time.
“I made a decision throughout the US Open once I had robust time with the gang.
“I do not have a good time my victories. That’s my factor and I prefer it.”
That “robust time” he references on the 2019 US Open appears to have been a key second within the making of Medvedev.
He was booed by the American public for dangerous behaviour on court docket within the early rounds however by the point he accomplished a run to the ultimate he had won them over with a joke and a smile.
That day – his first look in a Slam last – he lost in five sets to Rafael Nadal.
Fourteen months later he beat the Spaniard en path to a surprising victory on the O2 Area that made clear his credentials as a future star of the sport.
He was unbeaten all through, defeating world primary Novak Djokovic within the group stage, world quantity two Nadal within the semi-finals and world quantity three Thiem within the last. By no means in its 50-year historical past had somebody crushed the world’s high three gamers on the season-ending championships.
“My degree of recreation right here, particularly the final two matches, is simply unbelievable,” he stated.
“To beat Dominic, the best way he performed at this time, might be the perfect victory of my life.
“I do know I can play good however I’d not have believed this if you happen to advised me earlier than the match.”
Medvedev was participating as he spoke freely to the media after his win. He’s not essentially your typical modern-day tennis participant.
Thiem is a supreme athlete and thunderous hitter, Stefanos Tsitsipas, one other younger pretender, is energetic and sleek, whereas 23-year-old Alexander Zverev has a recreation constructed round a giant first serve and forehand.
Medvedev is lanky, technically a little bit awkward compared to these others.
He has spectacular energy however that’s blended with artful angles and, in opposition to Thiem, a willingness to return into the web.
It’s a type that has already despatched him on sizzling streaks. Final 12 months he reached six successive finals, culminating within the defeat by Nadal in New York, to deliver him to the world’s wider consideration for the primary time as a top-10 participant.
This victory in London takes his successful run to 10 matches, having additionally claimed the Paris Masters title within the build-up to the season finale.
However it has not at all times been simple.
“Even earlier than Paris I used to be feeling not assured in my recreation and my tennis,” he stated. “I proved myself improper.”
Now, consideration turns to the longer term. Having gained the largest prize in tennis away from the Grand Slams, there’ll inevitably be those that suppose he’s best-placed to dethrone Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer on the high of the sport.
However Medvedev is the fifth first-time winner of the season-ending match in a row, following Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov, Zverev and Tsitsipas, and Murray is the one one of many different 4 to have gained a Grand Slam. It was, in truth, Thiem who broke the ‘Massive Three’s’ stranglehold on the sport by changing into the primary new males’s main champion since 2014 at this year’s US Open.
Profitable the ATP Finals doesn’t assure Grand Slam success however this 12 months did really feel totally different with Nadal and Djokovic each crushed by youthful males on the same day in the semi-finals.
“Hopefully, all of us younger guys will proceed pushing, can have some nice rivalries,” Medvedev stated.
“Hopefully we could be there for a very long time, perhaps pushing the opposite generations again, as a result of that is how we could be near the highest three. They in all probability went by way of two, three generations with out dropping their degree, which isn’t straightforward.
“However what is unquestionably good from us, from Dominic, from me, we managed each to beat Rafa and Novak, which is a tremendous accomplishment.”
Thiem was equally constructive regardless of defeat.
“We proved we will play with the legends and likewise beat them and win the largest tournaments,” he stated.
“There’ll nonetheless be a time when these guys retire in three, 4 or 5 years and we would be the favourites for all the large titles. For tennis, there are some thrilling instances forward.”
Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have confirmed individuals improper repeatedly.
Their presence in an unsure 2021 season will imply we can’t assure seeing Medvedev’s ‘non-celebration’ on the largest stage subsequent 12 months, however we’d.