Tennis-Russia's Medvedev looks on the bright side of Wimbledon ban


Tennis - ATP 250 - Los Cabos Open - Cabo Sports Complex, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico - August 5, 2022 Russia's Daniil Medvedev during his semifinal match against Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic REUTERS/Carlos Perez Gallardo

(Reuters) - Daniil Medvedev said he tried to use the extra time away from the court to his advantage after Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian players from the grass court major in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The world number one returned to action in Los Cabos last week where he won four straight matches without dropping a set to claim his first title of the year on Saturday and said he feels extra prepared for the hard court season.

"You have to appreciate it because I definitely couldn't change the decision of Wimbledon. I have to follow the rules," he told reporters at the Canadian Open in Montreal on Monday.

"If you focus on the negative part. For sure I wanted to play Wimbledon, I wanted to do well there. I always want to be in the biggest tournaments and try to play good.

"You can just stay in this circle of, oh, my God, I was not able to be there."

The 26-year-old Moscow native said he got in some extra rest after his disappointing quarterfinal loss at the Mallorca Open in late June and is brimming with confidence.

"I've made a very good preparation block for the US Open Series, which normally you cannot do because you play Wimbledon. I was able to do it. Feeling 100% physically, mentally ready. Really happy with Los Cabos for sure with the title."

While he and other Russian athletes will be allowed to compete in Flushing Meadows this year, the players will do so under a neutral flag. Russia has called its actions in Ukraine a "special military operation."

Medvedev said the neutral flag does not bother him.

"No, not much, to be honest, because for me what matters is playing tennis. I really enjoy my job. Yeah, again, it's about following the rules.

"The rule at one point was very clear that we have to play under neutral flag. Me, I'm still Daniil Medvedev. I still want to win big titles, win big matches, or small matches. It doesn't change."

Medvedev begins his title defense at the Masters 1000 tournament on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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