Don’t Call Andrey ‘Jannik’! The Russians Take Over Tennis United
Russians have taken the ATP Tour by storm over the past few years and three of the Top 15 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings — No. 5 Daniil Medvedev, No. 14 Andrey Rublev and No. 15 Karen Khachanov — are from the country. All three joined Russian WTA stars Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Kasatkina on this week’s episode of Tennis United.
Perhaps the nicest part for the trio is that they are close friends. They’re certainly not afraid to joke around with one another.
“Andrey gets really, really angry if you call him Jannik because he looks like Jannik Sinner a little bit,” Medvedev said. “During this Australian Open he comes into the locker room and I said, ‘Hi Jannik, how are you?’ He got angry, he [went] away for 10 minutes, came back 10 minutes later, and goes, ‘You are Davydenko then!'”
Medvedev is 24, Khachanov is 23 and Rublev is 22, so they have known each other since they were juniors.
“[I had] so many matches with these two guys,” Khachanov said, before recalling a funny memory. “I remember still when Daniil was rolling on the court, crying and throwing the racquets to the forest! That was terrible behaviour, but I think it’s a pity that we don’t have videos.”
All three men have had signature moments at the US Open. In 2017, Rublev became the youngest tournament quarter-finalist since Andy Roddick in 2001. Two years ago, Khachanov battled Rafael Nadal in a gruelling four-setter, falling just short after four hours and 23 minutes. Perhaps the biggest of those moments came last year, when Medvedev went on a memorable run to the final in which he lost a five-set classic against Nadal.
“The US Open last year was special in many ways, and I think I will remember it for all my life,” Medvedev said.
“It was cool because it was a like a story. It was like a script, it was evolving,” Tennis United co-host Vasek Pospisil said. “Every day there was a new twist and turn and a happy ending. It could have been a movie.”
Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin, the two Russian men who have reached World No. 1, also joined the show. Kafelnikov had an idea for why the current Russian trio is enjoying success.
“When I became a Top 10 player, Marat was six years younger than me and he wanted to catch up to me, so we had healthy competition between each other and one was driven by another,” Kafelnikov said. “We’ve got three guys who are in the Top 20 and they all three are competing with each other. That’s the reason why tennis in Russia is very successful at the moment.”