Despite finally clinching a first clay court title in his ninth year as a professional, Daniil Medvedev warned Friday that getting too “cocky” will undermine his assault on the French Open.
The world number two arrives in Paris after securing his fifth title of 2023, the 20th of his career but the first ever on the sport’s most demanding surface, in Rome last weekend.
With 14-time champion Rafael Nadal absent from Roland Garros for the first time since 2004, Medvedev’s name is being mentioned as a possible championship successor to the great Spaniard.
“For sure, maybe I have more expectations than I usually had in Roland Garros,” the eccentric 27-year-old said.
“But I know that it’s also tricky, and you have to kind of use this confidence, but not get cocky because that’s where the danger is.
“Sometimes you think, Oh, well, I played so well, now it’s going to be easy. Then the first round you have problems. You get angry and lose the match.”
Former US Open champion Medvedev is right to be cautious.
He lost in the opening round on all of his first four visits to Roland Garros before stopping the rot with a run to the quarter-finals in 2021.
Last year, he made the last 16.
In Rome last week, he saw off the likes of Alexander Zverev, bitter rival Stefanos Tsitsipas and then highly-rated Holger Rune in the final.
His run to the title helped him move above Novak Djokovic in the world rankings.
The French Open draw was also kind as third-ranked Djokovic, a two-time champion, and chasing a men’s record 23rd Grand Slam title was placed in the same half as world number one Carlos Alcaraz.
That gave Medvedev a less troubled path to a potential place in the final in a tournament thrown wide open by the absence of Nadal.
“The tournament is for sure going to feel different,” said Medvedev.
“Every two days before you could watch Rafa play on TV because they would show him, for sure. He would play on the centre court.
“With him, there were a lot less chances. So it’s definitely different this year.”
Last year, Medvedev won only two titles. It was also a season in which he gave up a two-sets lead to lose the Australian Open final to Nadal and was a fourth-round loser at the French and US Opens.
Along with all Russian and Belarusian players, he was banned from Wimbledon.
But in October, he and his wife Daria became parents to their daughter, Daria.
Whether that has had a long-term calming influence on the often volatile Medvedev remains to be seen.
“I don’t want to say I became more mature, because I’m not sure that’s true,” he said.
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