Daniil Medvedev gives brutally honest take on new ATP-Saudi Arabia deal

Medvedev asked about the ATP announcing 'a strategic partnership' with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Daniil Medvedev gives brutally honest take on new ATP-Saudi Arabia deal
© Getty Images Sport - Christopher Pike

World No. 4 Daniil Medvedev is all in for the ATP-Saudi Arabia partnership as the Russian tennis star believes the deal announced this week can only help tennis grow and reach bigger heights. 

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia officially got even more into pro tennis after the ATP announced they agreed to "a strategic partnership" with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF). Under the deal, the rankings got named after the PIF, as well as the year-end No. 1 award. Also, the PIF is now the partner of the Masters events in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing and the ATP Finals and Next Gen ATP Finals. 

For months, some have been very opposed to the move of the ATP allowing Saudi Arabia to get more into tennis, claiming that the Kingdom is just looking to use tennis to "sportwash" its image. But many also believed that it was just a matter of time before the ATP and Saudi Arabia struck a new deal and the Saudis got even more into tennis after securing the right to host the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah through 2027.

"I think this is good for tennis. It has nothing to do with Saudi, to be honest, because we love our sport. The more money we can attract from different companies or stuff like this, the more attention, PR, we can bring. As you said, it's going to be bigger than just sponsorship," Medvedev said during a press conference at this week's ATP 500 tournament in Dubai.

"I think if we can make tennis bigger as a sport, more interesting for people, have more coverage, just in general more people will know tennis, who tennis players are. Sometimes maybe you want to be less famous (smiling). But yeah, I think it's going to be good."

Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev© Getty Images Sport - Christopher Pike
 

Medvedev has played in Saudi Arabia a couple of times 

Medvedev, 28, has already played in Saudi Arabia twice and he has spoken very positively about his experience of playing in the Kingdom.

In 2019 - when the first-ever tennis exhibition featuring top tennis players took place in Saudi Arabia - former world No. 1 Medvedev competed at the Diriyah Tennis Cup. That year, Medvedev played three matches in Riyadh and won them all to claim the inaugural Diriyah Tennis Cup exhibition.

Due to the pandemic, the Diriyah Tennis Cup didn't return in 2020 and it also wasn't staged in 2021. But when the tournament returned for its second edition in 2022, Medvedev took part again. Again, Medvedev made a deep run but this time fell just short of winning the title after losing to Taylor Fritz in the final. 

Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev© Getty Images Sport - Alexander Scheuber
 

Later this year, Medvedev will return to Saudi Arabia for an exhibition named "The Six Kings Slam." The interesting thing about the tournament is that it will take place in the middle of the season in October but it will still feature a star-studded lineup that also includes Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Holger Rune.

Medvedev shuts down a fake report in the media

Before his return to action at this week's ATP 500 event in Dubai, it was announced that the Russian added former world No. 6 Gilles Simon to his coaching staff. Simon, who retired from pro tennis after the 2019 season and famously beat Medvedev in each of their first three meetings, had a similar game style to the Russian and the 2021 US Open champion has often been compared to the Frenchman over the years.

While many were finding their partnership pretty interesting but also funny in some way, one report came out claiming that Medvedev gave Simon a list of 16 players he didn't like playing. Medvedev acknowledged that his long-time coach Gilles Cervara may have given Simon some list but underlined that it certainly didn't have 16 names on it.

Daniil Medvedev and Gilles Simon
Daniil Medvedev and Gilles Simon© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

"I try to not discuss like too much what's said in the media. I heard him talking to someone, someone French. They were asking him this question. He was like, I don't know where they took 16. They could say 32, 18, 21. He didn't say 16. That's how sometimes things are," Medvedev said.

"It was more I would say other Gilles Cervara who gave him that list. Me, it's tough to play against everyone. At the same time it's easy to play against everyone.

"Gilles, who is with me for 10 years, he can see more who is troubling more on the court for different reasons, so he gave this list to Gilles. I doubt it was 16 players. I would think it would be less.

"We didn't yet discuss too much. When I'm going to play one of these players, then we're going to discuss. Now before every match we discuss tactics.

"I will not talk one by one. Lorenzo is a tough opponent as we see today. Sometimes he turns around the forehand on the balls where he shouldn't maybe, and then he makes a winner. It's tough to think, do I force on the backhand, do I start to surprise him on the forehand. Yeah, it's not easy to play against anyone."

Daniil Medvedev
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