Medvedev vs Crowd: The sequel
World No.2 Daniil Medvedev helped send Russia into the Davis Cup final with a smooth 6-4 6-4 triumph over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, yet his victory speech started by mentioning his side’s win against Spain from earlier in the week.
A player who has made an art form out of taunting an opposing crowd, Medvedev did Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘calma’ celebration upon defeating Struff, as the capacity crowd at Madrid Arena whistled and booed him.
Medvedev beats Kyrgios and the crowd, Sabalenka's service troubles - Australian Open diary
The booing continued during Medvedev’s on-court interview, which prompted a classic response from the sarcastic and witty Russian.
“I’m really happy for the team to be in the final. An amazing two weeks so far for us, beating Spain was a highlight, I think beating Spain in Madrid was really, for all of us, we were so happy in the locker room to beat the home favourites, it was a really nice feeling and I’m really happy about it,” said Medvedev.
It started in 2019 but I’m not going to be tired to say it, people still don’t understand how to make me lose, they should support me, so it’s okay, continue, I’m going to just win.
Medvedev’s little dance with spectators dates back to the 2019 US Open when the notorious Arthur Ashe crowd turned against him during his trip to the final. He eventually won them over, but not before provoking them in every on-court interview, as he challenged them to boo louder.
In an age of diplomatic answers and squeaky clean behaviour by the majority of players on the men’s tour, Medvedev is among a select few who show their true character on and off court.
He said his ‘calma’ celebration was inspired by Karen Khachanov’s Spanish coach, Jose Clavet, who usually says the word ‘calma’ (calm down) in Russian when they’re playing cards or football or tennis. It was also an ode to Ronaldo, who frequently did the celebration during his time at Real Madrid.
“I felt it was fun. But, yeah, probably it was the wrong decision, which can happen. I had to go with it and to stick with it because I like to stick to what I do,” said Medvedev.
“It's a game which I don't play on purpose,” he said of his back and forth relationship with the crowd.
“Everything I do, especially on the court even more than in life, is pure emotions. In life I'm more calm.
I think definitely if somebody says that we need real characters, and when I say 'real' I don't want to say strong, weak, good or bad, but just real. Everything I do on the court is what I feel at this moment, so it's real. People should like it then.
“I definitely will be 100 percent honest: definitely don't provoke the public on purpose.
“If I do something to provoke them, it's actually not to make them mad or sad or against me. It's something that I feel in this moment.”
Medvedev explained how tough it is for the younger generation following in the footsteps of players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, whom he describes as “probably two of the most fairest sportsmen in all the history of the sport”. The 25-year-old says it’s difficult to measure up to such impeccable sportsmanship but feels more characters will turn up in upcoming generations.
“Pretty long answer, no?” he concluded with a laugh.
Medvedev holds off Struff to send Russia Tennis Federation to final
Young fan shoots his shot, and gets his reward
As the great Wayne Gretzky once said, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. One young fan in the stands seemed to take that concept to heart as he interrupted Germany’s Tim Puetz during the doubles match of their semi-final to show him a message on his phone which he translated from Spanish to German.
“Give me your racquet please when you’re done with your match,” the child had typed into the Google Translate app.
Puetz smiled and told him he would and stayed true to his promise as he raced to give the fan his racquet after he and Kevin Krawietz defeated Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karatsev.
A welcome reminder that it never hurts to ask!
Russians peaking at the right time
After going the distance in his first three singles matches of this Davis Cup Finals campaign – winning two and losing one – Andrey Rublev found his groove in his 49-minute 6-4, 6-0 victory over German lefty Dominik Koepfer.
The 24-year-old had complained about struggling to control his emotions during Russia’s quarter-final tie against Sweden but kept his cool throughout his straight-sets result in the semis on Saturday, converting all four break point opportunities he created and facing zero break points on his own serve – an encouraging sign ahead of the final against Croatia.
Medvedev has won eight of the eight sets he contested so far this week in singles, but he had troubles with his second serve during his win over Mikael Ymer in the quarters, in which he struck nine double faults. That was something Medvedev rectified against Struff on Saturday, by winning 80 percent (12/15) of his second-serve points and hitting zero double faults.
Russia secured the tie-win over Germany in less than two hours and will prove a mighty opponent for the Croatians in the final.
‘We need to improve in doubles’
World No.1 Novak Djokovic extended his singles winning streak in Davis Cup to 19 matches in a row but it still wasn’t enough to seal a final spot for Serbia on Friday. The Serbs lost to Croatia in the deciding doubles, as Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic fell to the No.1 doubles team in the world, Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic.
It’s the second consecutive time a Djokovic-led Serbia have exited the Davis Cup because of defeat in a deciding doubles match and the world No.1 admits it’ll be hard for his side to triumph in the competition without a solid doubles duo.
“For us singles guys, that's not the case. We return through the middle, that's enough in singles. But in doubles, they (Pavic and Mektic) are covering it, winning the easy points off the return. They always make you hit the perfect shot from the return. If you don't, you're in trouble. They put constant pressure,” said Djokovic on Friday.
It is what it is. We tried. It didn't work. But we definitely need to improve our doubles part of the team. We need to have a doubles team that is constantly playing together, otherwise it's going to be a Mount Everest to climb for us every time we play like this.
Quote of the day
“Me, when I'm on court, I know which country I'm representing. I know what is my national anthem. Of course, it's not nice to not have the chance, being in the final, no matter whether you win or lose, to raise your flag, to listen to your anthem, to have few other things which you were always dreaming to have. At the same time it's still the same competition: Davis Cup. I'm still playing for the same country. If we win it, we're all going to be disappointed by the small details, but at the same time a win is a win, a victory is a victory. So, yeah, doesn't really affect the performance on the court. Hopefully that can help us to win.”
– Medvedev on how it feels to be forced to compete under the ‘Russian Tennis Federation’ name, instead of Russia, and not being able to have the Russian flag on their kits due to sanctions placed on his country across all sports.
Stats of the day
- Russia are through to the Davis Cup final for the first time since 2007 and the sixth time overall.
- The Russians are now 4-0 head-to-head against Germany in Davis Cup semi-finals.
- Rublev improved to 19-10 in Davis Cup match-wins and could hit 20 if he is victorious in singles or doubles against Croatia on Sunday.
- Medvedev now owns a tour-leading 62 match-wins in 2021.
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