Dare To Dream: Daniil’s No. 1 Destiny Now A Reality
By Arthur Kapetanakis
Daniil Medvedev always had big dreams for his tennis career, starting when he first picked up a racquet at the age of six. As he rose through the juniors to become one of the giants of the ATP Tour, his grand visions gradually became achievable ambitions.
Already a US Open champion, a Nitto ATP Finals champ and a four-time ATP Masters 1000 winner, the 26-year-old Russian can now add World No. 1 to the list of childhood fantasies turned reality.
“When you are young, you think that it’s impossible, so that’s why you dream about it,” Medvedev said following his first-round win in Acapulco, where his semi-final run saw him overtake Novak Djokovic atop the ATP Rankings.
“When it becomes closer to you, you dream less about it and do more to achieve it… It’s not even a dream anymore, it’s a goal.”
Medvedev is the first player outside the ‘Big Four’ of Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to hold the top spot in 18 years, three weeks and six days, since Andy Roddick on 1 February 2004.
Medvedev’s rise towards that goal has been a steady one: He first reached the Top 100 in November 2016, the Top 50 in July 2017, the Top 20 in October 2018 and the Top 10 in July 2019.
It was in that summer of 2019 when he truly seized his place among the game’s elite. As the ATP Tour entered the hard-court season, Medvedev reached an untouchable level over the course of 10 weeks, winning three titles and amassing a 29-3 record as he reached a new career-high of World No. 4.
Even in the midst of that run, Medvedev’s rapid improvement continued. One week after losing a one-sided final to Nadal at the National Bank Open in Montreal, he defeated Djokovic on the way to his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati.
“When it becomes closer to you, you dream less about it and do more to achieve it.”
His coming-out party continued at the US Open, where both his game and his personality shone. After getting himself in hot water with the New York crowd, Medvedev slowly won them over and nearly capped his journey from villain to hero with the title.
While he could not complete a five-set comeback attempt against Nadal, he further endeared himself during the trophy ceremony.
“When I was looking on the screen, they were showing No. 1, No. 2, No. 19,” Medvedev said, referring to a video tribute for his opponent’s 19th Slam title. “I was like, ‘If I would win, what would they show?’”
Videographers are spoiled for their choice of Medvedev moments now.
Medvedev had been ensconced at the No. 2 spot in the ATP Rankings uninterrupted since May of 2021. Now, 11 months after first reaching the second position, Medvedev has broken through to the pinnacle of the men’s game.
It’s a historic achievement not just for Medvedev personally, but in the larger scope of the ATP Tour. Since Andy Roddick ceded the top spot to Roger Federer in February 2004, only four men have held the title of World No. 1: Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Of the four men, the Swiss is the only one against whom Medvedev has not recorded a win, though their most recent meeting came in early 2019.
“Everyone’s been sort of waiting for the younger generation to start winning more of the major events and occupy the top spots in the rankings,” Murray recently told ATP Media. “Daniil definitely deserves it.”