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2 Sep, 2019 17:15

Daniil Medvedev - Why tennis' latest troll should embrace his villain persona

Daniil Medvedev - Why tennis' latest troll should embrace his villain persona

From match spectators to match umpires, there hasn’t been many people not caught in the cross hairs of Russia's Daniil Medvedev at the US Open, and his sharp shooting tongue is doing his profile much more good than harm.

Medvedev, the spindly, swaggering Muscovite has for the first time in his career qualified for a quarter final of a Grand Slam, defeating Feliciano Lopez and then Dominik Koepfer at Flushing.

During the Lopez match, the 23-year-old Medvedev received a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct when he angrily snatched a towel from a ball boy and tossed it onto the court. After suffering the ire of the crowd, the world number five sneakily flipped off fans by holding out his middle finger out of sight of match officials.

Medvedev then expressed his regret by calling himself an “idiot” for his middle finger salute. “As regards my match with Lopez, I was an idiot, if I’m being honest...I did things I’m not proud of. I’m working to be better,” Medvedev meekly admitted after the match.

Also on rt.com Russian ‘villain’ Medvedev trolls US Open crowd AGAIN as he books quarterfinal spot (VIDEO)

But in a flash, Medvedev turned troll, targeting the crowd after they turned on him throughout the game, cheering his every missed serve and chanting, “Lopez! Lopez! Lopez!”, targeting his naysayers after the match: “I want all of you to know, when you go to sleep at night, I won because of you...The more you do this the more I will win.”

And that is precisely what Medvedev should aim for, ditching the do-gooding plan to ‘improve’ himself in favor of the path marked out for him by the crowd. After all: why strive to be a superhero when stooping to the lows of being a villain comes so naturally and brings such benefits?

Tennis is saturated with gleaming, squeaky-clean heroes, especially in the seemingly perennial world top three of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Even the most popular player to break that trio, Alexander Zverev, has bags of boy-next-door charm rather than bad-to-the-bone ballsiness. 


A look back down memory lane shows that John McEnroe’s “superbrat” caricature is still kicking and screaming in the annals of tennis history, remembered much more vividly than the much more cool, calm and collected Bjorn Borg, the American’s great, more successful rival.

Enter Daniil Sergeyevich Medvedev. At 6 ft 6in tall, his lanky frame produces sharp, jutting bursts across the court, and displays searing aggression when things aren’t exactly going his way.

Medvedev was the men’s player of the summer, smashing Novak Djokovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the Cincinnati Masters final in August where he beat Belgian David Goffin in straight sets to win his first ATP Masters 1,000 title.

His form has carried through to the season-ending Grand Slam in New York, where, at the Louis Armstrong Stadium he has twice caused a ruckus with a partisan crowd. But Medvedev shouldn’t alter his affrontive behavior if that relationship bears such rich mutual benefits.

Tennis has perhaps grown tired with the ranting and raving Serena Williams and subsequent media whirlwinds that more often attach themselves to her choice of outfit and virtue-signalling rather than her game.

Nick Kyrgios, with his furious wit and entertaining outbursts, has been a welcome anti-hero antidote to the status quo, but too often the Australian’s laid-back attitude has been detrimental to his performances.

Medvedev is a player who can perhaps go further, a player brimming with mettle and who danced defiantly after his win against Koepfer, feasting on the electricity that can only be evoked from a mob of angry sports fans baying for the blood of the bad guy. 

“My dance? Usually I don’t worry too much after a victory. I prefer to follow the emotions of others, and not demonstrate them. But here I was really pleased and wanted to do something special for my first quarterfinal," Medvedev responded.

“I saw comments that it was directed against the fans. But that’s not true. I just wanted to show how pleased I was. The boos? The fans’ reactions were less strong, than in the last match. I was a little bit surprised because I wasn’t going against the fans.”

Ok sure. But if that wasn't aimed at the fans shrieking at him throughout the entire match, then his next phase of antics was far less ambiguous.

Medvedev quipped he would pay for the tickets of each and every fan present to come back and replicate the same atmosphere that fed him with the energy he needed to power through to the US Open quarterfinal against Stan Wawrinka. 

If the young rookie continues his current bad boy role, that offer may turn out to be redundant. Those same fans will naturally turn up again and again, with the magnetic draw to see if the villain will finally be defeated, filling arenas wherever he goes.

By Danny Armstrong