‘Medvedev is a hero, but the girls push each other too!’ Rising star Kudermetova on tennis in Russia
Kudermetova dumped Ukrainian tournament no. 1 seed Svitolina out in front of a partisan crowd in the Russian capital’s Krylatskoye Ice Palace on Thursday.
It was a classy display from the 22-year-old, who recovered from a second set thrashing to close out the match 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 in a tense decider.
The win on Center Court was one of the biggest victories of Kudermetova’s career and no doubt a hefty confidence boost to a player who reached her best singles ranking of no. 42 just last month.
It also gained her a place in the tournament last 16 against fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the world no. 36. Those two, along with fellow Daria Kasatkina and Ekaterina Alexandrova form a cluster of around the top 40 rankings, with some big futures predicted by tennis experts.
After her victory, Kazan native Kudermetova spoke to RT Sport about playing in front of her home crowd, the inspiration of “hero” Medvedev, friendly rivalry among her contemporaries, and about being “not young” at only 22.
You’ve beaten Elina Svitolina, the world no. 4, what are your emotions after that match?
Of course I am really happy because when you beat one of the top 5 players in front of home crowd its a very good feeling. It helped me a lot today because I never played with so many people supporting me like today.
She seemed a bit irritated, do you think you maybe used that to your advantage?
I’m not sure about it you know I’m trying to focus on my game and try to think what I need to do on the court.
A lot of the other Russian players say how great it is to play at the Kremlin Cup, is it the same for you?
Yeah it’s really enjoyable but you know it also has some pressure because you want to play every match like one hundred percent and you want to win every match that you play.
Given there was a lot of pressure, how relieved are you to get the win?
You know I just try to play my game, focus on my work and try to enjoy every moment on the court.
Where does that victory rank in your career?
It’s very good for me for next season, I have to think I can play with top players and sometimes beat them. I think for me I have some confidence in myself.
There’s a group of female Russian tennis players now in and around the top 40: yourself, Kasatkina, Alexandrova, Pavlyuchenkova, is there a rivalry between you?
I think we are all friendly and we try to speak every time when we are together and if someone gets a high ranking we try to push and follow her way and try to go up and up.
You are also very young…
I’m 22 (laughs). Twenty-two is not young! I think I’m not young. We have younger players now like [15-year-old] Coco Gauff and some more junior players. No, I’m young but on the tour there are a few others younger.
The whole world is talking about Daniil Medvedev, the world no. 4, how much does that motivate the rest of the Russian players?
You know it’s in men’s tennis not women’s. But he does a really, really good job. Right now here in Russia the people every time support Daniil and I think it’s really nice now.
How much does his success inspire the country?
I think he gives inspiration for tennis player and like I say before, I think he’s the hero for Russia.
People write that he’s a bad boy figure, do you agree with that?
Sometimes he’s very emotional on the court. I think it’s ok it’s not bad he just tries to find his way and tries to play. I think for me it’s not bad.
Are you confident of continuing your form into next year?
You know I try to play the same like today and tomorrow. I hope to yes, maybe even better!
By Danny Armstrong at Krylatskoye Ice PalaceAlso on rt.com ‘I don’t think I’m a bad boy!’ Daniil Medvedev on image and ‘dream’ of passing Roger Federer (VIDEO)