Daniil Medvedev showing importance of developing both body and mind
By Emma Thurston & Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 17/10/19 3:58pm
In his own words, Daniil Medvedev is enjoying an “outrageous” run, and the signs are there that this run has the potential to become his new norm as he shows the importance of developing the mind as well as the body in tennis.
After defeat in Sunday's Shanghai Masters final, Alexander Zverev called Daniil Medvedev 'probably the best player in the world' and the form suggests the German is right - in fact, Medvedev has probably taken Zverev's mantle as the man most likely to disrupt the big three's Grand Slam domination.
Medvedev's most-recent outings on the hard courts have seen him deliver a 29-3 record and secure a second straight ATP Masters 1000 title on Sunday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.
The Russian took to Twitter earlier this week to confirm he would not be playing in his homeland this week, withdrawing from the Kremlin Cup in Moscow after a remarkable run that has seen him reach the final of the last six tournaments he has played since the end of July.
That run has included a maiden Grand Slam final at the US Open and three successive Masters series finals, the last two of which he has won. Since defeat to Rafael Nadal in New York he has won all 18 sets he has played and at times is looking unbeatable
When it comes to the 23-year-old Russian, we are seeing a young man maturing on court, not only is Medvedev's game improving with time but his mind and his demeanour are too.
The presence of a solid team around him, including his sports psychologist, coach and his wife, have given him the tools and structure within which to grow.
"My wife was there, and she was always telling me, that I'm going to be Top 10 soon, that I can play good and stuff like this. And so during the practice I was looking at her and saying, 'Good Top 10 player here, losing 0-6 in practice,'" Medvedev told the ATP Tour website after his latest title success at the weekend.
"Now it's her turn. She always reminds me this. 'So what did you say in Washington one year ago, Daniil? Can you remind me?'"
Major outbursts and considerable red mist moments are becoming a thing of the past as instead he's channelling his emotions in a way that suits him and a way that leads to positive and winning tennis.
Clearly not 100 per cent of his behaviour is right just yet - snatching a towel away from a ball-boy at the US Open went too far, as did putting a certain finger up to the crowd.
But his role of pantomime villain was embraced and by the end of the tournament he had the crowd in raptures as he joked about what the organisers would show on the big screen having sat through a package of Nadal's New York success in the presentation ceremony.
By the end many were standing up for his frankness and the fact that the US Open crowd did a U-turn on him by the end of the tournament, speaks volumes.
It's clear that as time moves on, Medvedev is learning how to cope with his emotions and should have the techniques to continue to do so.
The Russian himself doesn't believe that his upswing, which has seen him lift three titles and reach a further three finals, has been caused by one moment. Instead he feels that his hard work has gradually built and connections have been made.
"As a tennis player, I maybe started to understand something more about myself, and I'm not really sure what," said the 23-year-old to the ATP Tour website.
"As a person, I think I have changed about a year ago, or throughout this year I was changing a little bit, but I don't think that something changed 11 weeks before and that this made the change in my tennis."
When you look through the ranks of any sport, there will be countless individuals that have talent for days but that lack the temperament to go with it. Then there are those that have pockets of red mist and pockets of ill-discipline and if they can be moulded, taught and assisted then good things can arise.
From Medvedev's recent run, there's no doubt that the signs are there that he's on the right track to continue to develop from an emotional young player into a mature consistent ATP Tour winner and who knows where.
"My first goal is to win every match I play, and that's how I can actually become No. 1, if you win a lot of matches in a row just like I did," he added.
"To be honest with you, when you asked this question right now, I kind of thought [that] I don't have that much points to defend till I would say USA next year. But I'm going to try my best to show great results as I did here, and if something like this is going to happen, it's just a big bonus."
It's a path that others continuing to break through will be looking to follow if they're to make the most of their talent and opportunities.
Medvedev's maturing nature isn't saying that he will never have another feisty moment, he's human after all. But, the fact the 23-year-old now seems to be able to manage his feelings and play the tennis of his life bodes well for the future, very well indeed.