By Sudipto Ganguly
MELBOURNE - Winning his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows last year showed Daniil Medvedev what he is capable of and the Russian world number two said on Saturday he will go into next week's Australian Open with much more confidence in his game.
Medvedev, who turns 26 next month, won his first Grand Slam title in September when he took down top-ranked Novak Djokovic in straight sets at the U.S. Open.
"It gave me more confidence to any tournament that I played afterwards," said the Russian as he gears up to play his first major as a Slam winner.
"Sometimes before the tournaments I could be a little bit concerned if I was not playing well, let's say, two days before the tournament, I would lose a practice set, I would be concerned, a little bit nervous, sometimes angry.
"It did change this. Now I feel like I know even more what I can do, how I can play, what I have to do to play like this. I'm feeling much more confident than last year in terms of knowing my game, what I'm capable of."
Medvedev began the 2022 season with a defeat to Frenchman Ugo Humbert at the team-based ATP Cup but bounced back strongly to beat his next three opponents, including world number seven Matteo Berrettini of Italy.
He made it to the final of last year's Australian Open where he lost to Djokovic and the Russian could end up as the top draw at Melbourne Park with the Serb waiting for a court to decide if he should be deported after his visa was cancelled.
"Even if Novak is in the draw, I can only see him in the final," said Medvedev, who will open his campaign against Swiss Henri Laaksonen.
"At least, yeah, I need to win six matches before this. It would not change much my preparation for the tournament itself or for any match."
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Peter Rutherford)