Russian world tennis number one Daniil Medvedev was asked to pass comment on his country’s ongoing military conflict with Ukraine as well as the imprisonment of American basketball player Brittney Griner while starting the defense of his US Open crown.
Seeing off Stefan Kozlov in three sets in the first round at Flushing Meadows on Monday, Medvedev was reminded of his previous remarks at Indian Wells earlier this year when he suggested that the global community would learn more about the military conflict in the future as time passed.
Asked if he had indeed picked up anything since the tournament in March, Medvedev said he tries to “learn every day.”
“Every year is different,” the 26-year-old said, adding: “So about this situation, I would say in my opinion, the most I’m trying to learn, let’s say it like this.”
(Note: Comments on Ukraine and Griner are from the 4:25 mark in the video below)
“I’m trying to see [it] person-by-person,” Medvedev added. “So, as an example I have a lot of friends from different countries all over the world…
“So let’s say that when this started, when this happened, some of them for whatever reason could turn their back on me just because I’m Russian.
“And for sure, most of my really good friends, they know who I am. I’m still Daniil Medvedev, [I] still play tennis. You know, I tend to think that I am quite kind in life, maybe not everyone thinks this way.
“And they know it. This situation in Ukraine didn’t change this and the same [applies] about some Ukrainians,” Medvedev suggested.
“There are a lot of good Ukrainians and some bad Ukrainians. There are a lot of good Russians, there are some bad Russians. And so me, I tried to learn for myself that it’s really important in my opinion to see [things] person-by-person.”
Medvedev was then pressed to give his thoughts on jailed American basketball player Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison on a drug smuggling conviction earlier this month.
“For sure I’ve heard about this but I don’t know the exact full details,” Medvedev admitted.
“I mean the situation is for sure not easy when someone goes to prison. And I do think it’s quite comparable to other situations… like let’s talk about Novak,” Medvedev suggested, in reference to his US Open 2021 final opponent Novak Djokovic, who was forced out of this year’s tournament because of American entry rules on non-citizens who are unvaccinated against Covid-19.
“You know he couldn’t come [into] the country for whatever reason, different laws. And we can [ask] ‘does this law make sense?’.
“Because Americans can come back [home] without the vaccine but Novak cannot come here and he doesn’t want to live in the USA. He just wants to play the tennis tournament and go back home to Serbia,” Medvedev said.
“And so it’s the same. I don’t know the exact situation but if she really had, was it marijuana, I don’t remember what it was… then I don’t know. A law is a law,” Medvedev insisted.
“And if it is not true, and she didn’t have it, then I don’t know [if] they tossed it, then it’s not good. But I don’t know what it was or how it happened, so I have nothing more to say, you know.”
Online, some tennis fans took issue with journalists for asking Medvedev such questions.
“I’ve watched Daniil Medvedev’s press conference after the first round win against Kozlov,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Some journalists mistook him for [Russian former president] Dmitry Medvedev. The War, Britney [sic] Griner… Any athlete should [not] face this ridiculous content. Enough with the political questions.”
After topping Kozlov, Medvedev continues in his quest to retain the men’s singles title in New York by taking on Arthur Rinderknech in the second round on Wednesday.
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