“Is it better to be No. 1 for, let’s say one week in your life, or never touch it?” he said, posing a not-so-rhetorical question to reporters. “I think it’s still better to at least touch it.”
As it turns out, Medvedev’s fingerprints will be on the No. 1 ranking for a total of only two weeks, until next Monday, when he will relinquish that coveted title back to the record-setting seven-time year-end No. 1 Novak Djokovic. That the 26-year-old Russian can quickly grab it back with a semi-final performance at the upcoming Miami Open seemed to be of great comfort to him.
“Well, now I know I’m going to lose it,” he said, “so I have Miami to try to get it back. Usually feeling a little bit better in Miami in terms of tennis, so we’ll try to play good there.
“I thought it could give me more motivation, well, I had motivation. It’s just that, yeah, I didn’t find my best tennis.”
Medvedev vaulted past Djokovic on the strength of his sizzling start to the 2022 season, advancing to the final of the Australian Open and the semi-finals at Acapulco. In both instances he fell to a resurgent Rafael Nadal. It was just another reminder how consistent Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer have been over the past two decades.
“I always say, when I play my best tennis, my good tennis, it’s really tough to beat me,” Medvedev said. “But that’s the toughest part of tennis is to reproduce it time after time. That’s where the big three are just unreal because no matter which conditions, no matter which surface, they are always winning tournaments a lot of the time or winning some crazy matches. Yeah, I’m going to need to try to do better.”
Back in August of 1977, a young player from Sweden rose to No. 1 for the first time – and promptly lost it a week later to Jimmy Connors. Bjorn Borg, however, would return to the top for a total of 109 weeks, even though he retired at the age of 26. Austria’s Thomas Muster became the ATP Tour’s 13th No. 1 player, but was supplanted one week later by Pete Sampras. Muster would ultimately reign on top for a total of six weeks.
Based on his spectacular skill set and Djokovic’s lack of activity, Medvedev could well return to the top for many, many weeks. Certainly, the 6-4, 3-6, 1-6 loss to Monfils may have a motivational impact.
“So I’m going to try my best, on practice courts, on the matches, Grand Slams, Masters Series, to win as many tournaments and gain as many points and try to be World No. 1 for a long time,” Medvedev said. “You never know how your career’s going to turn. I want to try to be better than I was here, maybe fighting better.
“If it doesn’t happen, I think it’s the same. But the Top 100, the Top 10, some people stay there for long time, some people not. I think to have this achievement in your career is definitely still a good thing.”