Daniil Medvedev has shared the memory of his first-ever meeting on a tennis court with Dominic Thiem. The in-form Russian and last year’s finalist will fight it out for the season-ending ATP Finals title on Sunday night.
The year was 2013, and the setting was a junior event in Umag, Croatia, the Russian recalled.
Voted the top athlete in his homeland Austria, Thiem made the junior’s final at the Roland Garros that year.
“He was a finalist at Roland Garros and he came to play this tournament, which was a surprise to everybody. And for sure I wanted points, it was the main goal,” the big Russian said.
He said he was hoping to be drawn against a rank pushover in the quest of some points but instead ran into the Austrian, who was already a big name in the junior circuit.
“I was the last one to get in and I was telling my friends – because he was already a superstar among juniors – it would be nice to get a lucky loser or wildcard in the first round to try to win and then to get Dominic,” Medvedev recalled.
He said he expectedly lost the game, and, quite emphatically so.
“And that’s what happened…on clay, he destroyed me two and zero (6-2, 6-0), I think. I think I maybe made a tweener winner,” the Russian said.
He said he was reminded of the encounter after Thiem cited the game in an interview.
“Actually I lost the memory of this match and he remembered me in some interview about it,” Medvedev said.
He also recalled Thiem’s on-court advice to keep a calm head in the future.
“And I had a crazy attitude on court, 10 times worse than now…
“…and he told me after the match, ‘You’re going to have a good future maybe, but you need to be a little more calm because I was going crazy,” the Russian remembered of that encounter.
However, the 2013 self is merely a shadow of the Russian that Thiem will battle for the ATP Finals prize on Sunday.
Winning all his matches in the tournament, so far, Medvedev won’t be easy meat for the Austrian who upstaged Novak Djokovic in the semifinal.
From a set down, the Russian conjured a remarkable turnaround to send Rafael Nadal crashing out of the tournament.