DANIIL MEDVEDEV had been accused of turning his back on Russia.
Daniil Medvedev has responded after a Russian politician claimed he was not a true citizen of the country and branded him a “French tennis player”. The world No 1 is fresh off the back of a title in Los Cabos and was accused of turning his back on his country in the wake of his victory, as one of Russia’s State Duma Deputies hit out at Medvedev playing as a neutral athlete.
Medvedev became the target of comments from State Duma Deputy Roman Teryushkov, who said the US Open champion’s success was of “little interest” to Russians because he “removed the Russian flag at the request of the West” after the ATP, WTA and ITF made every Russian and Belarusian player compete neuturally with no mention of their country of flag in the wake of the Ukraine war.
The former Minister of Physical Culture and Sports of the Moscow Oblast also hit out at the 26-year-old’s decision to live in Monaco and speak fluent French, and the world No 1 has now hit back at the comments. “What matters is playing tennis. I really enjoy my job. Yeah, again, it’s about following the rules,” he said of competing as a neutral athlete.
“The rule at one point was very clear that we have to play under neutral flag. Me, I’m still Daniil Medvedev. I still want to win big titles, win big matches, or small matches. It doesn’t change.” And the 14-time title winner also spoke out on Wimbledon’s ban of Russian and Belarusian players, having been kept out of the tournament along with his fellow athletes representing the countries.
The top-ranked male tennis player achieved a career-best showing at SW19 in 2021, making the fourth round, but was unable to return when the All England Club barred players from the two nations, acting within government guidelines. But Medvedev was feeling positive after winning his first tournament since sitting on the sidelines over the ban, and shared his understanding.
He admitted: “You have to appreciate it because I definitely couldn’t change the decision of Wimbledon. I have to follow the rules. If you focus on the negative part. For sure I wanted to play Wimbledon, I wanted to do well there. I always want to be in the biggest tournaments and try to play good. You can’t just stay in this circle of, ‘oh my God, I was not able to be there’.”
And Medvedev is feeling good about his game ahead of his first-ever Grand Slam title defence at the US Open, having brushed off criticism from Teryushkov who speculated whether the Russian had obtained French citizenship.
“I’ve made a very good preparation block for the US Open Series, which normally you cannot do because you play Wimbledon,” he explained. “I was able to do it. Feeling 100 per cent physically, mentally ready. Really happy with Los Cabos for sure with the title.”