Daniil Medvedev hungry to keep pushing limits as he targets more success in 2024

Russian, speaking on sidelines of World Tennis League in Abu Dhabi, insists motivation is stronger than ever going into new season

Daniil Medvedev: 'I have the biggest motivation ever'

Daniil Medvedev: 'I have the biggest motivation ever'
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World No 3 Daniil Medvedev says his motivation is at an all-time high as he gets ready to begin his 11th season as a professional.

The 27-year-old Russian won a maiden Grand Slam trophy at the US Open in 2021, and has spent a total of 16 weeks at the top of the world rankings.

He owns 20 titles overall and earned more than $38 million in career prize money, but despite his lengthy list of accomplishments, Medvedev assures his hunger for more remains a major driving force, even if maintaining high levels of motivation becomes more challenging with age.

“Everyone is going to have a different motivation for different reasons. And I'll be honest, last two years, even last year, when I had an amazing run, I felt like I was changing. It’s normal.

“Getting older, you know, I'm not any more 23 and going for my first big title and I'm like, ‘OK, I want to do more’,” said Medvedev in Abu Dhabi on the sidelines of the World Tennis League exhibition event.

“So at this stage of my life, at least right now, I hope this can last for a long time. I have just the biggest motivation ever to just continue finding my limits, to just go for more. Try to be even more professional, try to fight harder, be better on the court.

“Because at the end of the season, I was a little bit too much all over the place because I was mentally tired. So I'm going to try to do all of this better next year and hopefully I can become a better player.”

Earlier this year, following a third-round defeat in the Australian Open, Medvedev dropped out of the top 10 for the first time since July 2019 – a shocking dip for a player who was ranked No 1 just 12 months earlier.

“I would say I was kind of disappointed with myself, and that’s not an easy feeling,” Medvedev said earlier in the season when reflecting on that period.

His reaction to it was swift though as Medvedev won his next 19 consecutive matches, picking up three straight titles – he won five overall in 2023 – and he was back in the top three by April.

After a campaign highlighted by a runner-up showing at the US Open, a semi-final appearance at Wimbledon, and a surprise title run on clay in Rome, Medvedev has firmly reestablished himself among the world’s best as an all-surface beast.

While Novak Djokovic reigned supreme in three of the four majors in 2023 and was one victory away from completing the elusive calendar-year Grand Slam, the Serb wasn’t the sole protagonist throughout the season.

Carlos Alcaraz beat Djokovic in the Wimbledon final and the duo traded places at the summit of the rankings on multiple occasions. Together with Medvedev and Jannik Sinner, the top four engaged in some of the most exciting battles of the year and shared the spoils outside the Grand Slams.

Medvedev faced off with Djokovic, Alcaraz and Sinner a combined 12 times in 2023, winning four of those encounters, and as a group, the quartet separated themselves from the rest of the field.

Can we expect them to dominate even more in 2024?

“For sure if we take last year and many, many different tournaments, we did separate a little bit from the rest at one point of the season and especially at the end, regarding the points,” acknowledged Medvedev.

“But I do think that this also shows that every season can be different. Stefanos [Tsitsipas] made a final in Australian Open; for different reasons had a tougher end of the season, but he can come back there and pass me, Sinner or Carlos or Novak, anyone.

“So I would be still careful with something like this. I myself was out of top 10 last year, in the beginning of the season.

“The only thing we're sure is Novak is always there. I could be out of 10, Novak is always there. So hopefully I can be part of this top four and whoever the other three guys and I'm going to try to do it.”

In a season where he won 66 of the 84 matches he contested, the biggest revelation was Medvedev’s form on clay – a surface he has always openly disliked.

With wins over fellow top-10ers Tsitsipas and Holger Rune en route, the Russian claimed the first clay-court title of his career at the Masters 1000 in Rome in May.

Clay will play an even bigger role in the tennis calendar next year with the players heading twice to Roland Garros, once for the French Open and again for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Medvedev is feeling more confident on the red dirt but believes the multiple surface-swaps will pose a major challenge for the players.

“Even if I proved it to myself this year, 100 per cent, that I can be a very good clay-court player, I feel like I'm struggling a little bit, and that was the case throughout all my career, to change surfaces,” he confessed.

“And this year we know it's hard, clay, grass, clay, hard. So it's going to be a challenge. Calendar is not easy, but it's the same for everyone.

“Again, I have big motivation to be even stronger physically to manage to handle the season until the end. And hopefully I can have a lot of great tournaments. Cannot win all of them, so I will try to win some.”

The tennis world is eagerly anticipating the return of Rafael Nadal, who is due to compete for the first time since January at next month’s Brisbane International, after a year-long hip injury hiatus.

Asked what challenge Nadal poses to the rest of the field, Medvedev said: “It's kind of the same like with Novak; it's just that all the seasons that he played he wins a lot of matches and doesn't lose many. It's very tough to beat him.

“Actually with Rafa maybe I even had even less success than with Novak in a way. But we had some tight matches where I felt like I could win and maybe he got the edge in the end. So for me it's going to be a great challenge if I have to face him.

“I don't know at the moment his shape, no one knows, and how he's going to handle. But from what I saw, he seems to be doing good and that's great for tennis.”

Updated: December 26, 2023, 1:30 PM