Daniil Medvedev plays down comparisons with Khabib Nurmagomedov, says he'll go "full power" at Cincinnati even after Toronto win

Daniil Medvedev with his title
Daniil Medvedev with his title

Daniil Medvedev clinched his 4th ATP Masters 1000 title on Sunday, beating Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-3 in the final of the 2021 National Bank Open.

Opelka, who usually wins well above three-fourths of the points played on his serve, ended up winning just 56% against Medvedev. The Russian used his high tennis IQ and tactical court positioning to neutralize Opelka's biggest weapon, which earned him a comparison with MMA great Khabib Nurmagomedov.

During his post-match press conference, Medvedev was asked whether he had a similar mindset to Khabib when it came to returning serve and getting a lot of balls back in play. The MMA legend had once said, ahead of a clash against rival Justin Gaethje, that he would take the American to the "deepest part of the ocean and drown him".

In response, Daniil Medvedev marveled at his compatriot's words, before acknowledging that he did have a similar vice-grip-like control in his return games.

"Nice quote, I'm not too much into wrestling," Medvedev said. "But, yeah, Khabib is a great champion, so his quotes should be taken not just for granted."
"Yeah, I think it kind of works for what I did today," he added. "Because definitely the goal was to try to get as many balls back as possible, maybe don't go for some crazy shots, just make Reilly play, make Reilly move, make him doubt."

Daniil Medvedev further explained that he made it a point to try and get his racket on even the biggest serves that Reilly Opelka sent his way, as that would increase his chances of winning the point.

"There were a few serves where I thought, okay, okay, this one, I'm not getting it, I just try to keep a racket on it," Medvedev said. "You put it back. Sometimes you hit a winner from them, sometimes it was an easy volley, but the more balls you put back, the more pressure you put on these opponents."

Daniil Medvedev will get very little rest after his exploits in Toronto, as he has to immediately fly to Cincinnati - where he is the top seed for the 2021 Western & Southern Open. When asked if he would take things slow to try and preserve his body for the US Open, Medvedev responded that he is young and not a part of the Grand Slam race so he needs to give importance to Masters 1000 events.

The Russian believes he needs to further build his "momentum and confidence" ahead of the US Open, which is why doing well at Cincinnati is paramount.

"You know, Cincinnati is a Masters 1000. I'm still young," Daniil Medvedev said. "I don't feel any pain coming out from this tournament. I will work physically next few days to try to prepare my body the best way possible, to preserve it also for US Open."
"I'm going to go full power at Cincinnati because again, yeah, it's a Masters 1000," he added. "I'm not yet at 12 Grand Slams where I'm going to prepare US Open to where I have to get the No. 13 to get closer to 20. No, I have zero."
"I need to build the momentum and confidence coming into US Open," the Russian continued. "Cincinnati is different conditions. I would say maybe closer to US Open than here. Yeah, I just want to play good there and then play good at US Open."

"Maybe drink a glass of champagne" - Daniil Medvedev on how he would celebrate his Toronto win

Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev

During the press conference, Daniil Medvedev was also asked how he would celebrate after his big win. The Russian replied that he would keep the revelry to a glass of champagne, given he has to leave for Cincinnati very soon.

"Not much," Medvedev said. "Maybe drink a glass of Champagne if I'm gonna have the chance on the plane to Cincinnati or in Cincinnati already, because we're gonna have the flight all together with many players in few hours. So no chance to celebrate before."

The Russian did add, however, that he might celebrate the title win properly later in the year.

"Or, you know, sometimes when the tournaments come back to back, you do it later in the season, just celebrate a great win you had," Daniil Medvedev said.

Edited by Musab Abid
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