Cervara on Medvedev’s No. 1 ranking: “A dream, and twenty years of total investment”

Gilles Cervara, the French coach of Daniil Medvedev, now coaches the best tennis player in the world. And he appreciates the path travelled to achieve it

Gilles Cervara, portrait Gilles Cervara, © Tennis Majors

Gilles, you have been training Daniil Medvedev for more than five years now. What does this rise to the rank of world No 1 mean to you and the team you have built around him?

For me, it represents pride and the accomplishment of a journey of more than 20 years of total investment dedicated to performance, to surpassing oneself, to the evolution of human potential and the achievement of my dreams, as crazy as they were… This achievement of Daniil, no one will take it away from us. As I said after the victory at the US Open, it is engraved forever. It is the proof that I was right to pursue who I wanted to be and to follow this flame that inhabited me, as difficult as it could be, then, in my life and in my head…

For the team, the hard core of Daniil’s team – Éric Hernandez in physical preparation, Francisca Dauzet in mental performance support, Yann Lemeir as sport scientist – it is a professional accomplishment, experienced together, each living this success with the meaning he attributes to it in relation to his life.

I pay special tribute to Francisca’s work with Daniil, in a dimension to which I have always been particularly sensitive and which was a real obstacle at the beginning, and at the same time an unchanneled, untapped force. Francisca knew, through her work, to reveal it. I am happy that this work was able to bear fruit in this way, as I am convinced that it is a point of the future for high-level athletes, and human beings in general. I am also thinking of the Daniil’s entire medical team: Carl Willems, Gaëtan Baudet, Paul Lochelongue, Bernard Nivet, Louis Fresneau.

Daniil is focused on Acapulco, he’s proud of all the work done

— Gilles Cervara

When did this world No 1 spot become a goal?

It becomes a goal when you see that concretely, you win a Grand Slam (US Open 2021 editor’s note), that you are top 5 (August 2019 the first time, editor’s note), that if you win again and you get closer to this place. It is a goal that is discovered little by little.

How does Daniil see it?

Daniil is focused on his quarter-final in Acapulco (on the night of Thursday to Friday against Nishioka, editor’s note) and proud of his job and the job of his team.

It is often said that getting to the top is harder than staying there. How do you approach this phase and settling in the No 1 spot, is that in itself a goal?

Staying at the top is another challenge than reaching it, but for me it is just as difficult, or in any case incomparable, different. Like any challenge, it requires acquiring the resources to get there. Beyond the importance of remaining at the top, what matters is to always want to be better than the day before, to seek this permanent progression and to continue to question yourself. Always. It is a philosophy of performance to be honored daily with humility and honesty towards oneself. Nothing will ever be easy to obtain. This will always require surpassing oneself.

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