(Reuters) – U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev said he has enjoyed his moment in the sun following his breakthrough win at Flushing Meadows last month, where he earned his maiden Grand Slam title with a straight-sets win over Novak Djokovic.
Receiving texts from players he grew up worshiping and being front page news around the world — especially in his native Russia — was a thrill, he said.
But there is one element of his newfound fame that has left him baffled.
“I don’t know why, but a lot of people try to pay for me in the restaurants,” Medvedev told reporters on Thursday ahead of his first match at Indian Wells, where he is the top seed.
“I usually try to refuse it, because I don’t see why I’d accept that from people I don’t know. But sometimes the waiter comes and says ‘You cannot pay for anything more because it’s already been paid’. It’s pretty funny, but it’s strange in a way.”
The world number two received $2.5 million for winning the U.S. Open and has amassed nearly $20 million in prize money over his career, so it is safe to say he can afford to pay for his own meals.
Medvedev, 25, said that despite achieving such a big goal in New York — one that has eluded so many other players in his age group — he remains motivated.
“Of course, it was a big goal for me, a big dream come true, but I’m still here at Indian Wells,” he said.
“I have motivation. I came here prepared. I was in Los Angeles for a week to try to bring my tennis up a level because that’s what I’m always trying to do with my coach.
“Even if I lose in the second round here, it will have nothing to do with my motivation.”
Medvedev received a first-round bye and will face either American Mackenzie McDonald or Australian James Duckworth in the second round at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in the Southern California desert.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Ed Osmond)