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

The world number two said the conditions were “some of the worst” in which he had ever played.

Image: AP/PA Images

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, 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 (90 degrees Fahrenheit).

“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.

“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.

novak-djokovic Source: Cameron Spencer

But Medvedev made it clear that Novak Djokovic is very much the to man to beat at this year’s Olympics.

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“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.”

Novak Djokovic launched his pursuit of Olympic gold with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien in the first round of the Tokyo Games on Saturday.

World number one Djokovic is bidding to become the first man to win a Golden Grand Slam, after victories at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2021.

The Serb, a 2008 Olympic bronze medallist in Beijing, will take on Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff in the round of 32 at Ariake Tennis Park.

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