At the beginning of 2016, Daniil Medvedev was still ranked outside the top-300, struggling to make that significant switch from juniors to pro tennis and not acting as the most dedicated youngster out there. With five ATP wins and a Challenger title, the young Russian made excellent progress through the rankings that season, reaching the first ATP final at the beginning of 2017 and staying on the strong course in the next year as well to lift three ATP titles and crack the top-20.
Fully aware of his abilities, Daniil became one of the players to beat in 2019, winning almost 60 matches and reaching the Tour-leading nine ATP finals, turning them into four titles and back-to-back Masters 1000 trophies that propelled him into the top-5 and towards the US Open final and the ATP Finals.
Speaking to Behind the racquet, Medvedev revealed he had a difficult time adapting to pro tennis after leaving juniors, not doing the right things outside the court and needing some time to adjust to the better-ranked opponents and show his best tennis every time he would step on the battlefield.
"There was always a little bit of a struggle between my father and my mother. My mother wanted me to study more, which is why I was in school while playing tennis until I was 18. In Russia, most professional athletes are done with school around 12 years old.
It might have been the reason I wasn't as good as my friends for some time, but I have no regrets. There were matches where I lost and all I was thinking about the extra $100 I could've made. The toughest period for me was the switch from juniors to pros.
I was ranked 13th in juniors, starting to quickly understand how difficult it would be to get from 700th to 300th in the world. You needed to save as much money as possible while trying to win five or six Futures as quickly as you can to gain some points and cash.
I was lost at that time, not knowing how to achieve that with many other players chasing the same. I remember talking to Bublik while playing Futures some thirty minutes away from where I lived in France. I was around 700th in the world and asked him, 'How do you even become 300, it seems impossible?' To this day, he remembers that line jokes when he sees me, 'Come on, how did we become top-300?' Even after reaching the top-100 for the first time, I knew I wasn't professional, doing the right things on the court but not that much outside of it.
I would go to bed late, playing PlayStation for hours and not paying attention to the small details. Moving from the top-70 towards the top-5, I was ready to dedicate everything to tennis and find my limits. That was the moment for me, improving my physical shape drastically and recovering from tough matches much more comfortable than when I was a junior.
I am not always sure what to do but my team helps me with my routine; I don't have any better answer on how I went from cramping in juniors to back to back titles as a professional. It always strikes me when people judge without any thought; it is one thing to argue, but to think your opinion is the best never makes sense.
There are people outside my circle that say I need to win this match or become better and it gets to me because I am not playing tennis for them. If you are happy where you are, do not let anyone tell you that you need to be better.
This was the most significant push for me, the idea that I always wanted to be independent of others. I try to keep my privacy during my time off the court, which isn't easy."