Russian villain sticks it to New York
The US Open's favourite villain walked out to a chorus of boos as the Centre Court crowd continued its hostile treatment of Daniil Medvedev.
But as it has all week the animosity only seemed to inspire the Russian as he produced a stunning 7-6 6-3 3-6 6-1 win against Stan Wawrinka to progress to the semifinals.
imagine medvedev playing federer in the semifinals fri nite, with the potential to derail a federer-nadal final. it’s going to be wrestlemania in there.— Jason Gay (@jasongay) September 3, 2019
Medvedev has become a cult hero at Flushing Meadows for repeatedly trolling fans who have booed him like a WWE heel in the final grand slam of the year, sarcastically thanking them in on-court interviews for giving him the chance to feed off their energy and increasing his motivation to win.
Normally the boos have come during and after his matches but this time the Russian copped his frosty reception before a ball had even been hit, the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium turning on him as he walked onto the court for his quarter-final against Stan Wawrinka.
Okay New York crowd, you can being so embarrassing now. No need for the booing even before the match has started. This doesn't have to be so personal. #USOpen— Nikhila (@kokudum) September 3, 2019
It was business as usual against Wawrinka as Medvedev countered the boos by winning the first set, despite being hampered by a leg injury. He had his quad heavily strapped at the 4-3 changeover and looked in serious trouble, struggling to move.
Medvedev had played more summer hardcourt matches coming in than the top four seeds combined (!)...At some point you think his legs would be in the lost-and-found. But not yet .... #usopen— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) September 3, 2019
Medvedev was shortening points at every possible opportunity to limit how much ground he had to cover but while it looked like he might be forced to retire, he somehow soldiered on to win the first set in a tie-break - a feat described by some tennis writers as a "miracle".
It wasn't pretty but Daniil Medvedev takes a one-set lead over Stan Wawrinka. 7-6 (8-6) to the Russian - who saved a set point - in the first men's quarter-final. In many ways it's a miracle Medvedev's still standing but his awkwardness is making this rather tough for the Swiss..— George Bellshaw (@BellshawGeorge) September 3, 2019
Medvedev continued to prove the critics wrong by breaking early in the second set before taking it 6-3 to leave Wawrinka and the crowd stunned.
I love Stan but I’m totally here for Medvedev messing with the booing US Open crowd and making it the whole damn way. 🎾 #USOpenTennis— Dan Hatch 🎾🌱 (@Daniel_Hatch) September 3, 2019
Wawrinka was badly out of sorts but finally strung together a few points to break early in the third and grab a 3-0 lead.
He ended up claiming it 6-3 to gain a foothold in the match, but it was anything but straight forward as he fended off four break points while serving for the set.
Medvedev was far from done and broke early in the fourth to begin to sniff victory. Wawrinka had an opportunity to break back in the third game but an incredible squash shot from the Russian denied him - and Medvedev secured a double break in the sixth game to go ahead 5-1.
After he served out the match the boos had turned to cheers - and he deserved every bit of it after a first-class display of grit and skill.
"We all saw the match was really strange. I had really big pain in my quadriceps and I thought I was not going to finish the match during the first set," Medvedev said. "But I'm happy to be in my first major semi."
Medvedev gave the crowd the finger during his third round win over Feliciano Lopez before making sure the spectators knew their hate only fuelled his desire to win.
"First of all, what I can say is thank you all because your energy tonight gave me the win," he said. "If you were not here today, I would probably have lost the match because I was so tired, I was cramping yesterday.
"I want all of you to know, when you go to sleep at night, I won because of you."
"Again, all I can say, all the energy you're giving me right now, I want you to know, it will give me energy for my next five matches. The more you do this, the more I will win for you guys. Thank you."
He spouted a similar message after defeating Dominik Koepfer and Medvedev won over Aussie star Nick Kyrgios with his antics.
The latest burst of Medvedev treatment comes after defending champion and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic was booed off the court after retiring hurt in the round of 16, also against Wawrinka, because of pain in his left shoulder.
Djokovic was trailing 6-4 7-5 2-1 and being thoroughly outplayed when he retired from the match in Arthur Ashe Stadium, shaking his head as he walked over to the chair umpire to say he was conceding before the fans in the stands turned on the Serbian.
Tennis miracle on Ashe for Medvedev... 7-6(6) vs Wawrinka who got wow tight when it was time to finish this. Against someone whose body holds thanks to tapes.— Carole Bouchard (@carole_bouchard) September 3, 2019