World No.2 Daniil Medvedev is ready to do whatever it takes to help his team win a third Davis Cup title when the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) starts its 2021 campaign on Saturday.
RTF, who can boast no fewer than four top-30 players, go into the 2021 Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals as the frontrunners for the title. But even with such strength in depth the Russians will be abiding by that famous sporting cliché of taking each match as it comes with the eventual goal of finishing what has been a sensational year for Russian tennis on a high.
“Every tournament that I play I try to do my best,” explained Medvedev, who will be making his Davis Cup Finals debut having been forced to withdraw just before the 2019 edition started. “I had two really good tournaments with Paris and Torino, so I’m looking forward to trying to play my best for the team and trying to gain the points, because that's the most important [thing]: to win your match, to gain one point for your team, because every point counts. That's what's gonna be my goal.”
With an opening tie against Ecuador on Saturday, the likelihood is that Medvedev, who only arrived in Madrid on Thursday, will be rested so that he’s ready for what will probably be a Group A decider against hosts Spain on Sunday.
The 25-year-old refused to be drawn on what experienced captain Shamil Tarpischev had in mind for the group matches and went on to say that he will do whatever is required of him.
“It doesn't matter who we play, which ranking, that's why Davis Cup is a special tournament. Every match is a new challenge where you don't play just for yourself, you play for the country, and you try to get the point and move on.
“No matter if you play Ecuador or Spain, who are the hosts, you just need to win every point in the encounter, and that's how you can win the whole thing.”
“It doesn't matter who we play, which ranking, that's why Davis Cup is a special tournament. Every match is a new challenge where you don't play just for yourself, you play for the country, and you try to get the point and move on."
One thing is for sure, Medvedev is not going to have much crowd support when RTF takes on Spain in Sunday’s mouthwatering showdown and the Russian isn’t at all fazed about playing the part of the pantomime villain, having gleaned important experience from his Davis Cup debut against Novak Djokovic in Serbia in 2017.
“All the crowd was for him,” he recalled with a smile. “That was one of the first times that I felt like, ‘yeah it’s actually possible to play when nobody is for you’, so there’s not going to be any surprise when the crowd goes crazy for Spain.
“Let’s see how much, because sometimes it’s just a little bit, sometimes it’s a lot. It’s going to be fun. It’s a great match-up, they have great players, but we have really good ones also.”
And the whole Russian team know that victory at the Davis Cup Finals would cap an extraordinary season for tennis in their country. The Russian Olympic Committee was the most successful tennis team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Russia won the Junior Davis Cup and RTF clinched the Billie Jean King Cup title earlier this month.
Karen Khachanov said: “We were discussing yesterday in the team dinner that this year was a success for Russian tennis. We had good results in Olympics. The girls, they won the Billie Jean King Cup, and now here we are. We will try to do our best. We have better and better players rising up and being closer to top 10. It's one of the best years for Russian tennis to shine again.”