Daniil Medvedev revealed that he didn’t want to start the clay season before he ended up winning his first title on the surface. The world No 2 surprised even himself by lifting the Italian Open trophy on Sunday, weeks after saying he was “hating life” ahead of the clay swing.
Despite being a Grand Slam champion and former world No 1, there was one thing that Medvedev thought he’d never achieve in his career – winning a Masters 1000 on the clay. In previous years, the 27-year-old shared his hatred for the surface and said it was like being “in the dirt like a dog”.
That all changed ahead of the Italian Open, as Medvedev came in claiming he felt great on clay despite losing his quarter-final in Monte Carlo and the round-of-16 in Madrid. The third seed had never won a match in Rome and ended the tournament as the champion, picking up his 20th career title and first on clay.
Although Medvedev had already started to enjoy the surface in the build-up to the Italian Open, he has now revealed that he was “hating life” ahead of the clay season. “Tough to say,” he responded when asked if his strong start to the season gave him confidence ahead of the clay.
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The world No 2 picked up four titles in Rotterdam, Doha, Dubai and Miami – the latter being the last tournament of the calendar before moving on to the clay. While the world No 2 thought that his previous Masters finals helped him, he later went on to say that he was left in a “bad mood” just by practising on the clay.
Medvedev continued: “For sure every time you play a big final, it’s an experience. It’s an experience for the next one. For example, both Miami and here, I felt like the start was so-so, then I managed to get into the match more and more and play better and better.”
Looking back to his first Masters final at the 2019 Canadian Open, he added: “When I played my first one, it was against Rafa, I got destroyed. I started bad, as I kind of started these matches, then I was only playing worse and worse.
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“The next one I managed to win against Goffin. It was a tight match from both of us. We knew it’s going to be first one for us. With experience, yeah, managed to do better in this moment, so maybe that helped. But then in general terms, after Miami, I was feeling confident, good.”
Despite being in the form of his life after winning his 19th career title at the Miami Open, Medvedev didn’t want to switch surfaces for the next few months. “When I came to practice on clay first few days, I was hating my life,” he confessed.
“I was coming back home. I was in a bad mood. I was like, I don’t want to do this again. I don’t want to go through this again.” But Medvedev now finds himself as a contender at the upcoming French Open where he will be the second seed, having overtaken Novak Djokovic in the rankings with his Italian Open win.
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