For the first time, Daniil Medvedev enters a tournament as the man atop the ATP Rankings. But, as he matter-of-factly pointed out, it’s not the first time he’s the top seed at an event.
“I think it’s a lot of pressure, but at the same time a lot of motivation,” he said of the honour, speaking at a BNP Paribas Open pre-tournament press conference. “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.
“Here it’s 1,000 points. But of course the draw is very tough, a lot of strong players, so it’s not easy to make it.”
His path to the title this week goes through a loaded top quarter of the draw which includes Stefanos Tsitsipas, defending champ Cameron Norrie, Gael Monfils and Carlos Alcaraz. Should he get through that gauntlet, he could face a third 2022 meeting with Rafael Nadal in the semis.
The Indian Wells title would give Medvedev five different Masters 1000 hard-court titles, and would present him with an opportunity to complete his collection of all six such trophies in Miami.
Medvedev has played just one event since his heartbreaking five-set loss to Nadal in the Australian Open finals, again falling victim to the red-hot Spaniard in the Acapulco semis.
“Playing at Acapulco… consciously, the Australian Open was by far over,” he reflected.
“But I think unconsciously it still was somewhere there, especially playing against Rafa. Something was not right in my energy in that match. Maybe it’s [because of] this, maybe not.”
While he didn’t play his best tennis in Mexico, Medvedev still enjoyed the event, spending time on the Acapulco beaches and learning mid-tournament that he had clinched the top spot in the ATP Rankings.
Three weeks after the AO final, Medvedev re-emerged at the ATP 500 event with a new perspective on his career.
“I think it made me mature, the Australian Open, hopefully,” he reflected. “I understood I have a lot of room to work on myself.”
The idea of Medvedev continuing to improve — be it mentally or physically — will be a frightening one for the rest of the Tour, particularly on his favoured hard courts. While he can no longer improve his ATP Ranking, he appears ready to embrace the challenge of holding on to the top spot.
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