Daniil Medvedev tells story that shows what kind of person Novak Djokovic is

Medvedev, 27, met Djokovic way before he became one of the players in the game.

by Dzevad Mesic
Daniil Medvedev tells story that shows what kind of person Novak Djokovic is
© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Daniil Medvedev shared a great anecdote of one of his first experiences with Novak Djokovic and how he instantly realized that the Serb was a kind person who didn't look at others from above. 

In 2017 February, a 20-year-old Medvedev was just starting on the ATP Tour when he clashed against Djokovic for the first time during a Davis Cup tie. At the time, Djokovic entered the Medvedev match as the big favorite. 

But Medvedev came to play, winning the first set against Djokovic with a 6-3 scoreline. However, it didn't take long before Djokovic responded winning the next two sets with 6-4 and 6-1 scorelines. At the start of the fourth, Djokovic took a 1-0 lead before Medvedev retired due to cramps.

Before meeting in an official match, Djokovic and Medvedev met on the practice court. After talking and realizing the Davis Cup was next on their schedules, Djokovic offered Medvedev to travel with him to Belgrade. 

Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic
Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

"For sure the story was unbelievable. We practiced with Novak. That was so funny. He was even like, 'Oh, we play the Davis Cup in couple days,'" Medvedev said.

"I was (like), 'Yeah. Are you going? Yeah, I'm going.' That was my first tie. He was like, 'When are you going?' 'I was like, Saturday.

"He was (like), 'Do you want to go with me?' Honestly, I feel like I'm a shy person. At first, I say, 'No, no, Federation already took tickets for me.' It was one stop, three hours away and something. I was there, maybe I actually should have said yes."

Medvedev changed his mind, Djokovic took him with him

After being shy at first and declining Djokovic's offer, Medvedev asked the Serb if he could come with him after their practice was over. Djokovic accepted and that's how the Serb traveled together to the Serbia and Russia tie. 

"In one hour when the practice finished. 'Novak, really, I can come with you?' He was (like), 'Yeah.' I was (like), 'Okay, I will come,'" Medvedev continued. 

"I think that's what sometimes people don't know about Novak. He can be tough on the court, like I can be. He can be this and that."

Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic
Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Daniel Pockett

At the time of their match, Medvedev was 20 and ranked at No. 63 in the world. Seven years later, Medvedev is a Grand Slam champion and has been ranked at No. 1 in the world. But when it comes to how Djokovic treats him, the Russian claims absolutely nothing has changed from how he treated him from Day 1.

"But me, since the first time I met him, I was 400 in the world. Now I'm 3 in the world. Was No. 1 in the world. I feel like he treats me like before," Medvedev said.

"For sure I became more of a rival than before for him. But the treatment off court when we see each other is the same. I like this about him. I find this very good from him as a person." 

Medvedev on what has changed since his first meeting versus Djokovic

When Medvedev took on Djokovic for the first time in an official match in 2017, he was young and trying to make a name for himself on the Tour. Shortly after that match and being forced to retire due to cramps, Medvedev got more serious about tennis and started taking his career way more seriously when it came to training and diet. 

The first results came in 2018, when Medvedev won his first three ATP titles. Now, Medvedev has 20 titles in his collection and he is widely regarded as one of the best players in the game. 

"At the time I was taking tennis seriously when I was on the court, but kind of let's call it not 100 percent, maybe 90 percent or something like this. I was already top hundred. I gave Novak a tough time," Medvedev reflected.

"Completely cramped out of the court. For three hours after the match I couldn't move, it was unbelievable. Honestly this trip was unbelievable. It's good to know I could make Novak suffer on the court already back then."

Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Since the 2017 Davis Cup, Medvedev has had 14 more meetings against Djokovic. Against Djokovic, Medvedev has had a certain success, having won five matches - but he has still ended on the losing side 10 times against the Serb.

But Medvedev beat Djokovic in one of the most important matches. In the 2021 US Open final, Medvedev saw off Djokovic 6-4 6-4 6-4 to win his first and lone Grand Slam title. 

Medvedev and Djokovic also met in two other Grand Slam finals - the Serb beat the Russian in the finals at the 2021 Australian Open and the 2023 US Open. 

So far at this year's Australian Open, Medvedev has been through to the round-of-16 while Djokovic has made the quarterfinal. Medvedev and Djokovic could potentially meet in the Australian Open final.

Daniil Medvedev Novak Djokovic