Daniil Medvedev shrugs off playing under neutral flag: ‘I’m still Daniil Medvedev. I still want to win big titles’
Missing big tournaments like Wimbledon and playing under a neutral flag are far ideal for Daniil Medvedev, but the world No 1 is seeing his glass as half full as he looks to kick off an important few weeks with a good performance at the Canadian Open.
Medvedev, his fellow Russians and players from Belarus were not allowed to compete at any grass-court events in the United Kingdom – including Wimbledon – after the All England Tennis Club and Lawn Tennis Association banned players from the two countries following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine in February.
After more than a month on the sidelines due to said ban, the 26-year-old made his return at the Los Cabos Open last week and it was a successful debut in Mexican as he won the title without dropping a set.
He will next be in action at the ATP Masters 1000 event Montreal where is the defending champion, but does he feel he was negatively affected by not playing at Wimbledon?
“You have to appreciate it because I definitely couldn’t change the decision of Wimbledon. I have to follow the rules,” he said.
“If you focus on the negative part. For sure I wanted to play Wimbledon, I wanted to do well there. I always want to be in the biggest tournaments and try to play good.
“You can just stay in this circle of, ‘oh, my God, I was not able to be there’.
“I’ve made a very good preparation block for the US Open Series, which normally you cannot do because you play Wimbledon. I was able to do it. Feeling 100 per cent physically, mentally ready. Really happy with Los Cabos for sure with the title.”
— Omnium Banque Nationale (@OBNmontreal) August 8, 2022
The next few weeks are crucial for Medvedev as he is not only defending his title in Montreal, but also the reigning US Open champion while he also reached the semi-final of the Cincinnati Masters last year.
He will be competing at these events under a neutral flag as players from Russia and Belarus can only compete as individuals.
“What matters is playing tennis. I really enjoy my job. Yeah, again, it’s about following the rules,” he said.
“The rule at one point was very clear that we have to play under neutral flag. Me, I’m still Daniil Medvedev. I still want to win big titles, win big matches, or small matches. It doesn’t change.”
Medvedev faces a tricky opening clash in Canada as he could face either Sebastian Baez from Argentina or Australian Nick Kyrgios in the second round.
Baez is enjoying a fine breakthrough season on the ATP Tour as he won his maiden title in Estoril in April and also finished runner-up at the Swedish Open.
Kyrgios, meanwhile, finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon and won the Citi Open on Sunday, defeating Yoshihito Nishioka in the final.
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