Daniil Medvedev channels hostile US Open crowds to emerge as one of the best
By Mathieu Wood
Last Updated: 07/09/19 12:35am
Under the bright lights of New York theatrics are a common occurrence.
Whereas, tennis is largely bereft of personalities on tour and often bemoans characters that act in any form out of the ordinary.
Daniil Medvedev, who was no household name last month, has emerged as a characterful presence at the US Open. Nick Kyrgios has company in the rebel stakes.
There are not many sports where a sportsman could receive just as much coverage for goading crowds as producing his best performances on one of its biggest stages.
What ability - of which he has plenty - Medvedev possesses, the Russian has matched with his on-court histrionics.
"Thank you all, guys, because your energy tonight gave me the win," Medvedev expressed after his stormy third-round victory against Feliciano Lopez.
"If you weren't here, I probably would lose the match … I want all of you to know, when you sleep tonight, I won because of you."
The 23-year-old Russian was completely unfazed - if anything he thrived at the opportunity to tackle a hostile American crowd.
Medvedev repeated his sarcastic thanks to the crowd, inviting further vitriol in his direction, after a fourth-round win against Dominik Koepfer, with the scenes almost resembling that of the scripted environment of WWE.
Hahaha I rateeeee what medvedev said to the crowd last night 🙊— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) August 31, 2019
His conduct against Lopez, which also included snatching a towel from a ball person, led to a series of fines thrown at him totalling $9,000.
Through his opening three matches at Flushing Meadows, Medvedev was fined $19,000.
I'm working to be better. Hopefully I can show the bright side of myself.
Daniil Medvedev, after victory against Dominik Koepfer
The fifth seed has won $960,000 for reaching the semi-finals, following victory against former champion Stan Wawrinka on Tuesday, at the final Grand Slam of the season. The fines pale into insignificance.
The Arthur Ashe crowd booed Medvedev when he made his way out onto court for his match against Wawrinka. Unsurprising many, including the player himself, will say.
"After the previous round, what I got I deserved," Medvedev said.
"Usually I'm not like this, as I was in the third-round match. I'm not proud of it. I'm working to be better. Hopefully I can show the bright side of myself."
Medvedev reaches US Open semi-finals
He is the youngest semi-finalist at Flushing Meadows since Novak Djokovic (23) in 2010.
First Russian man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final in nine years since Mikhail Youzhny at US Open.
His victory included far less villainous drama but did see the five-time winner on the ATP Tour battle against a quad injury, which threatened to end his run through the draw.
Asked to characterise his relationship with the New York fans, Medvedev added: "I have two words: first one, 'electric'. Second one, 'controversy'.
"What I've done is not good but many people still support me and many people don't like me. What I can say is that I try to be myself. I have to say 'Sorry guys and thank you'."
After beating Grigor Dimitrov - conqueror of Roger Federer - in the last four on Friday, he will continue his rise to the top echelons of the sport. No player has won more matches this year - 50 to be precise.
Just over a year ago and Medvedev wasn't even inside the world's top 50.
But he has now won a maiden Masters crown - the culmination of three successive finals in as many weeks - and become arguably the biggest threat to Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Medvedev's summer of firsts
|1st||Nitto ATP Finals||Qualified|
|1st||Grand Slam QF & SF||US Open|
|1st||Week in Top 5||19 August|
|1st||ATP Masters 1000 Final||Rogers Cup & Cinncinati|
|1st||Week in Top 10||15 July|
His brilliant form has seen him already secure his spot at the season-ending ATP Finals in London. There is no question he is currently among the world's best and there's every reason to believe his upward trajectory will continue.
Gilles Cervara has coached Medvedev during his rise to prominence and described the player as a "genius".
"Sometimes a genius, you don't understand them," Cervara said. "It's like this. They are different."
Medvedev has won 19 of his last 21 matches.
Medvedev has freely admitted earlier in his career he lacked discipline, citing all-night parties and playing PlayStation during tournaments as a hindrance to his progress at the time.
He has certainly committed inexcusable acts of petulance beforehand.
After a second-round defeat at Wimbledon in 2017, he tossed some coins towards a chair umpire in frustration.
A year earlier and he was disqualified from a Challenger after he "questioned the impartiality of the umpire, based on her race" during a match against America's Donald Young.
Medvedev, who will reach a new career-high of world No 4 on Monday, has since transformed his fortunes and could yet round off a memorable US Open campaign with the title.
That would surely help win over the New York crowd.
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