Medvedev decides on tennis over a career as food critic U.S. Open


NEW YORK -- If you don't remember Andrei Medvedev as the No. 6 player in the world in 1993, you may remember him as the comedian who claimed U.S. Open officials were trying to poison him here two years ago by serving such bad food.

You'd hardly know him today.

"I realized, especially during this year, that without putting your mind into tennis -- 99.9 percent of your mind into tennis -- you can't be successful," he said after beating Jean-Philippe Fleurian, 6-2, 6-0, 6-1, yesterday. "I have had much less fun off the court, but now I'm having much more fun on the court."

He said he is more self-controlled and has little time for anything outside of tennis.

"I used to give a lot of energy away while I was talking to too many people," said Medvedev, who turns 21 Saturday. "I always felt like I have to say hello to everybody, talk to them, be nice to everybody. This all takes energy.

"I realized most people only talk to you because you're winning. When you're not winning, nobody wants to talk to you. . . . I'm

not here to talk about the food or entertain anybody."

He said he is here to play his best tennis and that life, to him, is a love match.

"Without tennis, I'm nobody," he said. "This is what I'm living for. When I don't feel good playing tennis, I basically don't want to live."

His ranking plummeted to 44th in June, but after winning at the Hamlet Cup on nearby Long Island last week, he's moved up to 36th.

"Things are going well," he said. "It's getting better, but I'm not there yet. I haven't done anything yet. In the six straight matches I've won, I haven't beaten anyone yet ranked higher than me."

Different perspectives

After qualifier David Nainkin pulled off an upset of fellow South African Wayne Ferreira, the No. 9 seed, Nainkin recalled earlier meetings with Ferreira.

"We must have played more than 10 times against each other when we were kids," said Nainkin. "We were probably head-on-head even. There wasn't much to choose back then. We were just little kids."

Ferreira, who lost to a qualifier here last year, too, didn't remember the youthful meetings in the same way.

"He was in a different age group and we didn't play each other very much," Ferreira said.

"Maybe it was 10 times, I don't remember. But he was a little older. I think he would have won probably every time."

The certainty is that Nainkin won yesterday, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5. It was his first victory over a top-10 player. "I didn't come out expecting to win, that's for sure," said Nainkin. "But I wanted to play the best tennis I could for myself and to be happy with myself. Today, I had a willpower that I didn't know I had. I dug deep."

Marathon winners

Paul Haarhuis has won big matches here and lost big matches here. Many probably remember him as the guy who lost to Jimmy Connors when Connors was celebrating his 40th birthday with a run to the semifinals.

Haarhuis remembers winning the doubles title, beating Boris Becker when he was No. 1 and beating John McEnroe in the second round in 1989 to get his singles career started.

Now he can add yesterday's five-set victory over Michael Joyce, a match closer than the 6-7, 7-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 score implied.

Michael Tebbutt also survived a five-setter yesterday, beating Richey Reneberg, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Pub Date: 8/29/96

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