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12 May, 2021 15:06

‘In the dirt like a dog’: Medvedev asks official to default him while losing all-Russian tennis clash as Rublev laughs from stands

‘In the dirt like a dog’: Medvedev asks official to default him while losing all-Russian tennis clash as Rublev laughs from stands

Top tennis contender Daniil Medvedev made his contempt for clay clear again as rising star Aslan Karatsev claimed another scalp at the Italian Open, causing laughter from fellow Russian ace Andrey Rublev as he watched on.

Never one to hide his disdain for the surface, Medvedev again entertained as he lost in straight sets to compatriot Karatsev in Rome, going out to the man ranked 25 places below him as his dismal run on clay continued.

After struggling to reach a shot, the world number two appeared to be more interested in tending to some plants by the side of the court, and he also playfully poked his racket at a camera in a show of his discomfort at the picture being focused on him.

After being broken decisively in the second set, Medvedev ruefully asked: "Do you like to be in the dirt like a dog? I don't judge."

The Australian Open finalist then echoed his words before a rare win on the surface at the recent Madrid Open by admitting: "I don't want to be here."

World number seven Rublev, who beat Jan-Lennard Struff to set up a round of 16 encounter with Roberto Bautista Agut, was seen chuckling in the stands as he watched the pair with whom he won the ATP Cup play out the match, which again higlighted Medvedev's extreme misgivings about clay and Karatsev's meteoric rise from being outside the top 200 little more than a year ago.

For all his eye-catching tomfoolery, the concern for fans of Medvedev is that his travails on the surface will impede the realization of his potential to become a truly great player and a regular Grand Slam champion.

Following a superb run of results last year that continued at Melbourne, the 25-year-old had an outside opportunity to become the player to finally end world number one Novak Djokovic's record-breaking run at the top of the rankings this month.

That chance, as anyone aware of his history on clay might have expected, has faded as quickly as his frustrations with his hated surface have re-emerged.

Medvedev entered the match with a perfect record in six matches against his countrymen, relinquishing that unbeaten run with a 6-2, 6-4 loss in just an hour and 18 minutes.

Karatsev, meanwhile, beat a top-ten player for an astonishing fifth time this year, including his win over Djokovic at the Serbia Open en route to the final in Belgrade.

He will now surely fancy his chances of making the quarterfinals when he takes on world number 47 Reilly Opelka next.

Djokovic will face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the round of 16, and second seed Rafael Nadal is scheduled to meet Italian 19-year-old Jannik Sinner on Wednesday.

Also on rt.com ‘I don’t want to play here’: Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev slams racket on detested clay surface... then wins match (VIDEO)