The 26-year-old will make his debut as world No. 1 at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this weekend.
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Starting his first official tournament as No. 1, Daniil Medvedev wants to show why he’s there.
The 26-year-old is the top seed at Indian Wells, his first event since clinching the No. 1 ranking for the first time during the ATP event in Acapulco two weeks ago, where he reached the semifinals. Medvedev is the first player since 2004 to reach No. 1 other than the Big Four of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
“I think it’s a lot of pressure, but at the same time a lot of motivation,” he was quoted as telling press prior to the start of the tournament. “I’m going to try to do my best. It’s the same every tournament you play, try to gain as many points as possible.”
Medvedev’s climb was helped by winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open, and he has established himself as a top contender on hard courts. But he’s also looking to shake off some of the lingering effects of the Australian Open, where he blew a two-set lead in the final to Rafa Nadal and argued frequently with umpires during the tournament.
He fell to Nadal again in straight sets at Acapulco, and suggested that his performance had been affected by his defeat at Melbourne. The pair could also meet in the semifinals of Indian Wells.
“But I think unconsciously it still was somewhere there, especially playing against Rafa. Something was not right in my energy in that match,” said Medvedev, adding that he was also taking positives from the experience. “I understood I have a lot of room to work on myself.”
Though he’s playing with a new number next to his name, his nation’s flag will not be beside it. The ATP Tour along with other tennis organizations has removed Russian identifiers due to the country’s war on Ukraine.
Asked about the move, Medvedev repeated he would “want peace” across the world and that he will compete in accordance since “that is the only way I can play” at the moment.
“It’s always tough to talk on this subject because I want to play tennis, play in different countries,” he said. “I want to promote my sport, I want to promote what I’m doing in my country for sure.”
Unlike some other sports, tennis has not excluded individual competitors though the ITF is not allowing Russia to compete in its team competitions like Davis Cup. Medvedev would like to avoid further restrictions on his ability to keep playing on tour.
“Some sports made this decision, especially, I would think, the team sports. Tennis is probably one of the most individual sports we have in the world,” said Medvedev. “There’s always a possibility, but I hope not.”
Medvedev has a first-round bye at Indian Wells, where he is looking to triumph for the first time.