World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev could not defend his title as he lost to Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-4 in the championship match of the 2021 ATP Finals on Sunday. During his post-match conference, he spoke about his performance in the final, the future of tennis and Zverev's Grand Slam chances.
At the press conference, Medvedev spoke about the future of tennis and why he believes the younger generation can achieve greatness on their own terms.
"It's tough to say because it's tough when you talk about yourself. I want to say I'm the best one in the world, watch me play, but no, I'm not like this. I think what is important to know - and my coach is laughing a little bit about this - he's saying, Yeah, well, when there was Borg and McEnroe, when they were close, finished their career, everybody was like, Tennis is over, we won't ever have any great players, it's finished."
"We did have some, Sampras, Agassi, they were at the top. Sampras retired, Okay, tennis is over. Then we had Novak, Roger and Rafa. If you asked just before they came, everybody would say, Well, tennis will not be interesting anymore."
According to Medvedev, it's going to be the same with his generation. While they might not achieve the highs of the "Big 3", this next generation could go on to do great things as well.
"It's the same here. Tennis is a great sport, so I don't see why our generation would miss on something. Of course, maybe we don't do 20 Grand Slams, yet nobody did before Roger, Rafa and Novak, so they were also worse than them, if we can say like this. It's definitely not going to be a shame."
"There are a lot of great players who don't have a Grand Slam title": Medvedev
According to Medvedev, a lot of great players, former and current, haven't won a Grand Slam. His contemporaries Stefanos Tsitsipas and Zverev have each reached a Grand Slam final and had opportunities to win the title too, and Medvedev thinks they will have more chances in the future.
"Well, there are a lot of great players who doesn't have a Grand Slam title, if you talk about ex-players or players right now. Stefanos was up 2-0 against Novak in the Roland Garros final, played exceptional clay court season. He could have it, as well. Sascha was serving for the match in US Open."
Medvedev stated that the sport is unpredictable, someone can get injured or win 20 Grand Slams. It's the same with Zverev.
"It's tough to say. You never know where your career is going to go. Some players start to play worse, somebody gets injured, somebody wins 20 Grand Slams. It's the same about Sascha."
Medvedev claimed the German is a great player and has it in him to win a Grand Slam, but there are others in the field too. If Zverev hadn't lost in the semifinals of the US Open, the Russian thinks that the German could've defeated him in the final.
"He is a great player that is capable of beating anybody. He definitely can win a Grand Slam because it's just obvious. But he's not the only one. That's where it gets tough. He was in the semis in US Open, lost in five sets. Who knows, maybe he would be in the final, he would beat me."
Medvedev further added that every tournament is different and things change all the time. While Zverev is certainly capable of winning seven matches to win a Grand Slam, whether he's going to do so remains unknown.
"Again, it's just a matter of every tournament is a different scenario, different surface. You need to win seven matches to be a Grand Slam champion. Is he capable? Yes. Is he going to do it? We never know."
Medvedev felt he was let down by his serve during the final, which is quite important given the conditions at the event. While he had served quite well throughout the tournament, there was something missing since his semifinal match. The Russian attributed his serving woes to either fatigue or mentally not being 100%, but could not specify the cause.
"Yeah, I think on this court serve is really important. It was working pretty well. Actually felt like yesterday I could have served better already. Was only three aces. I didn't feel amazing. Tough to say. Maybe some tiredness of the body. Maybe just mentally was not a hundred percent. Not that I didn't want to be. But, yeah, definitely something was missing. I don't have the answer to be honest what."
The difference in his serve from the start of the tournament to now was visible to Medvedev, as it didn't have the same impact. Coupled with Zverev playing brilliantly, especially on his serve, it was enough for the German to win.
"It made a difference. Even when it was in, was not really going on the line, didn't have this spark, if we can say like this, on it. Wasn't enough. Sascha is a great player to be able to break me two times, which actually sometimes is in a way not too bad. When you play in a Masters final on a fast surface, somebody serving like Sascha, it's enough to win the match. For me, can talk about many things, but the serve was definitely the key today, and he was better at it."
This was the third meeting in two weeks between them. Medvedev stated that it was obvious that both were going to switch up their tactics and the German had the edge because he did that better.
"I think at our level it's even interesting because, of course, we're all going to try to do something different, to prepare differently, to play differently. I felt that he was doing something differently. Maybe I lost the first break of serve because of this. At the same time, again, if you make aces, in a way you're in the match."
Medvedev also tried to do things a little differently and felt he was successful too. But with Zverev serving so well, he couldn't do much on the returns, and that cost him the match.
"I tried to change up things I have been doing. I felt that it was working good, but I just couldn't return his serve few times. It was enough for him, again, to win the match."
Medvedev mentioned that the psychological aspect of it doesn't bother him much and that he finds it interesting. He stays mentally prepared for his opponents to try different things. Even if he loses, he focuses on doing better the next time so he'll win.
"Yeah, talking about the psychology, I don't know, it's not that tough for me. It's interesting for me. Every time you know that he's going to try to do something new, you're going to have to be prepared for it. Same for them. Okay, he won me this time, next time I'm going to try to be better, try to do something better than him and win."
In the end, Medvedev said he could only speak for himself, and he's going to try his best to win more titles and be in the finals of major tournaments.
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"I can only talk for myself. I will try to do my best, try to win more titles, try to be in the finals of big tournaments. Yeah, not much more to add."