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US Open star Medvedev reveals his life-changing roadtrip, vaccine views, thoughts on players coming out... and favorite movie

US Open star Medvedev reveals his life-changing roadtrip, vaccine views, thoughts on players coming out... and favorite movie
World number two Daniil Medvedev is gunning for glory at the US Open. After reaching the third round, the Russian opened up about Covid jabs, his American roadtrip, players coming out and his love of movies.

Entertainer Medvedev has been credited with turning his image around at the tournament, where he was cast as a villain by crowds during an eventful 2019 showing.

Back then, the colorful Muscovite was given a code violation for snatching a towel from a ballboy, launched his racket across the court, told an umpire they were not fit for purpose and openly signaled to the hostile crowd to keep booing him, later telling them that they were giving him the energy to sustain his challenge.

It took Rafael Nadal five sets to see off Medvedev in the final that year, and the 25-year-old has now displaced the Spaniard as the only man behind Novak Djokovic in the rankings. After cruising past Dominik Koepfer in straight sets, can he thwart Djokovic's charge towards the Grand Slam this time?

"What I’m trying to do is stay in the moment, stay myself and I let the people decide," said Medvedev, calling it "really special to be back in front of the crowd in New York."

“I had to stay super consistent. I knew it from the beginning of the match, because two years ago, when I played [Koepfer], it was a tight one."

That meant Medvedev restrained his increasing taste for eye-catching trick shots. “I knew from the beginning I had to keep my level high, and that’s what I managed to do," he explained. "That’s how I won.

"It was a completely different match than two years ago – hopefully the same story or better.

"His level dropped a little bit and I took advantage of it. I’m really happy to be through in less than two hours.”

Medvedev has more reason than the increasing warmth of the crowd towards him to feel a special connection to the US.

Years ago, he took a mammoth roadtrip to a tournament in Montreal which ended up having a profound effect on him.

"We were on the roadtrip and we saw Manhattan and all these tall buildings," he recalled. "We were going to Montreal.

"It was a crazy story: there were no tickets, I guess I'm not sure if I played qualifiers there or in the main draw.

"We decided in the morning. It's more of a crazy story for my coach [Frenchman Gilles Cervara] because he came, the day before, to Washington and he made it all the way, I don't know why.

"Crazy memories, crazy story. I remember we had this talk on the way back which... I don't want to say it changed my life because these expressions are too big for me, I think.

"But of course, the small details can change the path of your career and they are just fond memories. I'm sure he also remembers it."

Medvedev is far from a qualifier now. As one of the players best positioned to succeed Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer as a regular major champion, his opinions make headlines – but he would not be drawn too much on women's number 19 Victoria Azarenka's remarks that players should be made to take Covid vaccines at a showpiece where they are a requirement for crowds.

"Tough to answer on this question," he replied. "I think everybody can have his own opinion. Yeah, I don't have an answer to this question, honestly.

"I understand why they did it to the fans. So far, it has not been applied to the players. As players, we can just follow the guidelines and the rules. That's all we can do.

"So if we're going to have the same rule, we will need to find out how we cooperate with it.

"I think it's not for players to decide, because that's why we have governing bodies in tennis. Sometimes we might not be happy with them; sometimes we might be happy.

"But it's still them who make the decisions. It's definitely not players. Otherwise many things could be different in a good or a bad way.

"So we are just, you know, hard workers who do their job on the tennis court."

Another topical point on US Open Tennis Pride Day was the question of what the response might be among professionals should a player publicly announce themselves as gay.

"I honestly think from my side... everybody would be super open if somebody would come out on the ATP Tour," said Medvedev.

"The other question is... are there any gays on the ATP Tour? Again, until somebody comes out, you cannot know unless you're his best friend and you know what he goes through.

"I think it's great from the US Open, this initiative. I think ATP honestly is doing a good job also, especially internally, trying to provide info and just make sure that if anybody wants to come out, he's going to feel safe and secure.

"Again, in my opinion, it's going to be just... all the players would be happy for the guy if he does it. That's all I can say."

Recovery time often entails films for the Australian Open finalist who is still seeking his first Grand Slam win.

"I definitely like to watch movies. That's just sometimes relaxing, sometimes interesting, sometimes – how do you call it in English – you can learn things from it.

"Actually, I found out my wife is reading Matthew McConaughey's biography right now, and she's showing me some things from it which look super interesting, so maybe I'm going to read it one day.

"I can watch any movie. I watched a lot of old ones, a lot of classic ones. I also like new movies coming out. I can literally watch almost any genre. I would always say my favorite is 'Catch Me If You Can', because I really like the relaxing aspect of it.

"I've watched it maybe five, six times in my life. And I don't know, it makes me just feel good watching this movie. [Leonardo] DiCaprio, [Tom] Hanks – one of the best actors in the history."

Medvedev's next act is against Spanish world number 74 Pablo Andujar on Friday.

Also on rt.com WATCH: Furious Medvedev collides with camera in explosive scenes in all-Russian semi-final clash with Rublev in Cincinnati