Medvedev calls for later starts as tennis stars toil in Tokyo heat


Tokyo Olympics Tennis
Daniil Medvedev cools off during a changeover in a tennis match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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TOKYO: Daniil Medvedev suggested organisers delay the start times of Olympic tennis matches until the evening as players laboured in the sweltering Tokyo summer heat on the opening day of the tournament.

The world number two defeated Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 6-4, 7-6 (10/8) in the first round on Saturday (Jul 24), but admitted afterwards the conditions were “some of the worst” in which he had ever played.

“I think, like they do in Mexico, the matches should maybe start at like 6pm because the heat actually gets much lighter,” said Medvedev, whose match began just after midday in Japan with temperatures hovering around 32 degrees Celsius.

“We’re here and we know the matches will be early and you couldn’t practise at this time. I don’t think they’re going to change it in the middle of the tournament, but that’s what can be done and the fact we have only one minute between changeovers is a joke.

“I think if you ask 200 tennis players here, I think 195 will say one minute is a joke and it should be 1.30 like it is in Asian tournaments.”

Medvedev, a two-time Grand Slam finalist who will meet 160th-ranked Sumit Nagal of India in the second round, is fairly well acclimatised to the heat, spending his summers on the French Riviera after relocating from Russia.

READ: Medvedev wins Olympic opener as Djokovic begins gold medal bid

“Where I live in summer in Cannes can be really hot, I’m not going to lie, but you have to play. That’s the Olympics, you go for the medal. You’re not here to cry about heat, it was really tough for both of us,” said Medvedev.

The Russian has fond memories of Tokyo having won the Japan Open as a qualifier in 2018, when he beat home favourite Kei Nishikori in the final.

But Medvedev made it clear that Novak Djokovic, who is chasing a calendar Golden Slam, is very much to man to beat at this year’s Olympics.

“My first goal is to try and win every match here,” said Medvedev.

“When I come to the Olympics all I want is a gold medal, but we all know who is the favourite and it’s not me. I’m maybe kind of close but not the favourite, so I just try to do my best.”

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