Daniil Medvedev said he needed a long time to recover from his loss to Rafa Nadal in last year’s Australian Open final, but the Russian vowed to use his experiences to reach a higher level in 2023 as he gears up for the season’s first Grand Slam.
Medvedev was up two sets when Nadal pulled off a comeback for the ages by sealing a 2-6 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4 7-5 victory in a thrilling final at Rod Laver Arena to deny his opponent his second major crown.
“I felt absolutely terrible… the thing about life and tennis is that you have to get over it, try to learn from it because you can’t change the past,” Medvedev told reporters on Sunday, before the Adelaide International 1 tournament.
“I had some tough moments in my career… tough losses – I know a lot of losses in a row and I always managed to find a way back, so I’m sure I’m going to find the way back to an even higher level than I was playing maybe last year.
“But yeah, the match was not easy to get over for some time, but right now I’m looking forward to the Australian Open again, and I want to do better than last year. That’s the goal.”
After losing to Nadal at Melbourne Park, Medvedev exited the French Open in the fourth round, while a ban on Russian players at Wimbledon due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine forced him to miss the grasscourt major.
His title defence at the US Open ended following a fourth-round defeat by Australian Nick Kyrgios and the 26-year-old went on to lose his number one ranking.
Teenager Carlos Alcaraz ended 2022 as the top-ranked player and Medvedev said the men’s field looked as strong as ever with the emergence of new faces in the top 10.
“I think it’s always difficult because it’s always some new players that come in. Some old ones are maybe playing a little bit worse, but they’re coming back… Carlos is number one in the world now, playing amazing,” Medvedev said.
Medvedev will open his season against Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the Adelaide ATP 250 event with a potential semi-final clash with 21-times Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic.
Meanwhile, Bianca Andreescu roared back after being blanked early on by former world number one Garbine Muguruza to prevail 0-6 7-6(3) 6-1 in an absorbing battle that kicked off the Adelaide International 1 tournament on Sunday.
The clash between the former Grand Slam champions at the WTA 500 event looked set to be a one-sided affair as Andreescu found herself down a set and trailing 5-2 in the next, but the 2019 US Open winner found her groove and mounted a comeback.
Dragging the second set into a tie-break, she established a 4-2 lead before drawing level in the contest against twice major winner Muguruza with a powerful ace. She then surged ahead 3-1 in the decider before closing out the win as Muguruza wilted.
“In the second set, I really had to change my game plan. I told myself to go for it, whatever happens, happens,” Andreescu said. “I put more returns in the court and more serves in the court. I’m so glad I pulled that out, I have no idea how.”
Up next for the Canadian is fourth seed Veronika Kudermetova or Amanda Anisimova who will face off on Monday.
Estonian Kaia Kanepi also came through a tough battle as she beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 4-6 6-1 6-4.
GAUFF HEADLINES RETURNING AUCKLAND CLASSIC
Top-seeded American Coco Gauff begins her preparations for the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open with a first-round match against Wimbledon semi-finalist Tatjana Maria at the Auckland Classic on Tuesday, a day after the WTA 250 event returns to the tour.
The 2021 and 2022 editions of the tournament were cancelled due to the COVID pandemic, after American great Serena Williams triumphed in 2020 for her last WTA title.
“We’ve never played before, but I used to hit with her when I was younger,” Gauff said about a potentially tricky clash with Maria after the draw on Sunday.
“Obviously, she had a great Wimbledon run. She was one of the first players I talked to when I was 15 and going on tour, my former coach was great friends with her husband, so I know her pretty well on a personal level.”
Four Grand Slam champions – Venus Williams, Sofia Kenin, Emma Raducanu and Sloane Stephens – are also in the mix.