Daniil Medvedev has opened up on the damaging extent of his shock loss from two sets up in the Australian Open final amid another run-in with “disrespectful” fans.
The Russian world No.2 was just one break point and two games away from winning his second grand slam before Rafael Nadal staged an epic fightback to win his 21st major title.
Upstart rival versus legendary fan favourite produced a one-sided crowd but two weeks of angst in Medvedev’s matches spilled over in his press conference – as you can watch in the video above.
Medvedev had a running battle with the chair umpire about “idiots” inside Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night while also taking on the ballkids for how they handled his service games.
By the time he faced the media in the early hours of Monday morning, the 25-year-old was ready to speak up.
“It’s going to be a little bit of a new press conference because I’m going to start with a short or long – I don’t know, I’ll try to keep it short – story of a young kid who dreamed about big things in tennis,” he began.
Medvedev spoke of picking up a racquet at six years old and, by the time he was 12, becoming immersed in his dream of being a grand slam champion.
“There are a few moments in my career where this kid is doubting whether he should continue to dream about these big things or not,” he said.
He remembered losing at the French Open early in his rise and arriving at the press conference to see just one Russian journalist in the room.
Another loss at Roland Garros left him frustrated with the crowd and again there were few people in the press conference.
“Again, the kid was doubting of dreaming big,” a smiling Medvedev said.
“I’m just talking about a few moments where the kid stopped dreaming, and today was one of them.
“I’m not going to really tell why. From now on I’m playing for myself, for my family, to provide my family, for people that trust in me, of course for all the Russians because I feel a lot of support there.
“I’m going to say it like this. If there is a tournament on hard courts in Moscow, before Roland Garros or Wimbledon, I’m going to go there even if I miss Wimbledon or Roland Garros or whatever.
“The kid stopped dreaming. The kid is going to play for himself. That’s it. And that’s my story.”
Medvedev said he has “not much regrets” about his game on Sunday night and is “not really disappointed with the loss” itself.
But he smirked when a reporter asked if the crowd contributed to his emotional response to the match.
“I’m just going to give one small example,” the 2021 US Open champion said.
“Before the Rafa serves even in the fifth set, there would be somebody – and I would even be surprised – one guy screaming ‘come on, Daniil’ and a thousand people would be like ‘tss tss tss’.
“That silence. Before my serve I didn’t hear it. It’s disappointing. It’s disrespectful, it’s disappointing.
“Not sure after 30 years I’m going to want to play tennis.”
What prompted emotional story
Medvedev later explained his story was not at the forefront of his mind before the match, saying the doubts have added up over the years.
“You start to play Novak, Roger, Rafa, we had some tough matches. I hadn’t beaten them yet,” he said.
“There was a lot of talk about young generation should be better or people saying we really want the young generation to go for it, to be better. I was pumped up, let’s try to give them a hard time.
“Well, I guess these people were lying. Every time I stepped on the court in these big matches I really didn’t see much people who wanted me to win.
“It’s cumulative but today was the top of the mountain.”
Medvedev accepted a journalist’s ‘anti-Russian’ theory that his nationality plays a part in how fans respond to him as a player.
“I can definitely see when you are playing somebody from the other country that they would go for them and not for a Russian or something like this,” he said.
The two-time Australian Open runner-up made clear his motivations for returning to Melbourne and winning more titles around the world have not waned.
He offered high praise towards Nadal for the historic victory on his comeback trail from surgery and a recent experience with COVID-19.
“Huge respect. Huge respect for beating me because I tried my best. I really tried,” Medvedev said.