Medvedev warns rising stars inspired to deny Djokovic Slam

New York (AFP) –


World number two Daniil Medvedev expects Novak Djokovic to shatter plenty of records in coming years but says top young stars are determined to deny him a calendar year Grand Slam at the US Open.

Speaking Friday in New York ahead of Monday's start of hardcourt showdown, the 25-year-old Russian said he and Green third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and fourth-seeded Olympic champion Alexander Zverev are threats as well.

"I'm sure Novak wants 45 Slams, play 'til 55. But we're here to try to keep up his level and to beat him," Medvedev said. "We're here to not let him win the US Open.

"But we all know that Novak, he's a very strong player, one of the best in the history. That's why any tournament he's in, he's a big contender, a big favorite."

Djokovic beat Medvedev in this year's Australian Open final and rallied from two sets down to defeat Tsitsipas in the French Open final. After winning Wimbledon, he tried to capture the Olympic title but his "Golden Slam" bid was foiled by Zverev in the Tokyo semi-finals.

"Was up a set and a break against Sascha (Zverev). Sascha managed to bring on amazing level to beat him. That's what you have to do against him," Medvedev said. "Stefanos was in the final of Roland Garros, two sets up. I was in the final in Australia, not two sets up but still in the final.

"We're going to try to get him. Of course, this competition to be the first one of these young guys to win a Slam, yeah, everybody wants to do it, but there's going to be only one who makes it."

The 20-something stars want to keep the "Big Three" of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all level on a men's record 20 career Slam singles crowns. Nadal is out with a foot injury and Federer with a knee injury.

"Since I'm here, I want to say I'm going to try my best to keep it at 20 for all of them," Medvedev said.

- 'Amazing' Big Three -

"The Big Three are amazing. For two weeks non-stop for all of the sets they would not have this level drop, and they would always be on top of their opponent.

"I feel like I progressed a lot in this aspect. That's what I need to try to do here."

Medvedev, who opens against Frenchman Richard Gasquet and could face Djokovic in the final, said the Serbian star's feats are impressive for coming in an era dominated by Nadal and Federer.

"It's amazing he managed to achieve it when Roger and Rafa were there before him," Medvedev said. "Even me as a kid, every fan in the world thought, 'OK, Novak, great player, maybe win few Slams but never going to be the same level as Roger and Rafa because, well, they're amazing.

"He was able to almost break all the records in tennis. I think he's going to break few of them in next years to come.

"What these three did is something exceptional in sport, which maybe will not be there in tennis for 100 more years. Or maybe it's going to be the same in 10 years after them."

Medvedev, who lost the 2019 US Open final to Nadal, won a tuneup title at Toronto and reached the semi-finals last week at Cincinnati.

He's looking forward to playing in front of full capacity crowds at New York after empty stands last year due to Covid-19 and taking some heat from the fans in 2019 after unsportsmanlike conduct and visible obscenity violations.

"It's going to be funny to see how the crowd reacts. I hope because it finished on a good note it's going to continue the same way," Medvedev said.

"I'm going to do my best to make a good level of tennis and in that way make fans support me."