Few occasions would have tested the mettle of Daniil Medvedev quite like the final of the Sydney International.
The young Russian was facing an even younger player in the final – 18-year-old wildcard Alex De Minaur – and also had to contend with the partisan support of the 10,000-strong local crowd at Ken Rosewall Arena.
Yet somehow, despite an admission of his tendency to go “crazy” on court, Medvedev was able to close out a 1-6 6-4 7-5 victory for his first ever ATP title.
“It’s very tough, of course, but the only thing, I think it works for everyone,” Medvedev said of the crackling atmosphere under lights on Sydney’s imposing show court.
“If the crowd goes really crazy, sometimes it can turn you on, also. Even if it’s against you, you don’t feel it that it’s against them. Just hear them, so it can turn you on, also.
“I’m sure he wouldn’t make the comeback in the third set without the crowd. It was tough, but I’m really happy to manage this. It’s a good lesson for Australian Open where I play (Thanasi) Kokkinakis (in the first round), of course.”
Indeed, as Medvedev surged to a 4-0 lead in the final set and looked destined to run out a convincing winner, the tigerish De Minaur made a final push, sending the crowd into a frenzy as he broke Medvedev in the 10th game when the Russian was serving for the title at 5-4.
A few games earlier, Medvedev had been cruising on serve before coughing up a pair of double faults and spraying a shot long to hand the teenager his first break of the set, which began the comeback.
How did the Russian refocus amid the din, and with such a big prize on the line?
“That’s how tennis is. Sometimes there are matches like this. Not so much, but this final was like this,” he surmised.
“Of course I was a little bit shaky because of this, a little bit disappointed, but the same time, I just wanted to try to get the trophy, so amazing to get it.
“I can say that I have been working a lot, let’s say, since I became 18, so I’m not a junior anymore, on my mental part. It was going very slow, because, I mean, I have a lot of stories where I got crazy, lost the match because of it, got disqualified. I mean, there were many stories. I guess you know about them (smiling).
“This tournament is amazing for me, because in seven matches I can say that maybe that was my best tournament mentally. I didn’t break one racquet. I didn’t go crazy. Even I was losing the semifinal, the final, of course I could say some words but I was never out of this match.
“That’s amazing job I have done in the preseason.”