Daniil Medvedev has been the US Open’s wacky villain, booed by fans after making an obscene gesture, while the Russian’s coach sees him as a misunderstood genius.
But after apologising to the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium following his quarter-final victory Tuesday over Stan Wawrinka, Medvedev said he wants to show a “bright side” to capture who he really is.
“What I have done is not so good, still people support me... What can I say. I like to be myself, guys,” said Medvedev. “I have to say, sorry guys, and thank you.”
Boos greeted Medvedev as he walked onto the court, the frosty reception stemming from his obscene gesture and unsportsmanlike conduct in a third-round match, snatching a towel from a ballboy and lifting a middle finger to the side of his head.
Medvedev was hit with a $9,000 fine for his antics, his third fine in as many matches.
Subsequent taunts to crowds about how their jeers made an electric atmosphere that gave him inspiration to win didn’t help.
Medvedev later called himself “an idiot” and admitted he needed better on court behavior.
He got mixed applause and jeers after beating Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam champion, and hoped he has made peace with the notoriously loud and rowdy US Open spectators.
“Hopefully. It’s not for me to decide,” he said. “What I got I deserved. Usually I’m not like this, as I was in the third-round match. I’m not proud of it. I’m working to be better. Hopefully I can show the bright side of myself.”
In some fashion, Medvedev’s bad-boy manner can be traced to his childhood idol Marat Safin, the 2000 US Open champion from Russia.
“Watching Marat when we were young, that’s why we threw racquet,” said Medvedev. “You’re watching him and you think it’s cool. You think, ‘OK, I’m going to be like Marat, I’m going to break my racquet right now.’”
Cooler heads have prevailed in his older and wiser days, such as his coach, Frenchman Gilles Cervara, who says they haven’t spoken much about the controversy that has tagged Medvedev since the incidents.
“We talked a bit but not that much. It’s easy with Daniil,” Cervara said. “He’s turned to the performance, so he’s smart enough to understand that if he did the wrong thing or not, if he continue to go in this way, it will put more trouble for him.
“Of course he likes to play also with it, but he didn’t cross too much the line, I would say.”
Cervara said Medvedev’s latest appeal to the spectators went well.
“Quite well, I guess,” he said. “I hope so, because it was good talk to feel that he doesn’t have anything against anybody. I think it was a good one.”
‘Like to coach a genius’
Cervara says they get along well because he understands Medvedev isn’t like normal people.
“His game is like his personality – very different,” he said. “It’s like to coach a genius. Sometimes a genius, you don’t understand them.
“It’s like this. They are different. And you have to connect to this guy like he is. I think we do it quite good.
“It’s not long conversation. It’s smart conversation. Because Daniil is very different person. I have to find the small things to touch him and to give my message to him.
“So it’s really tough to explain how we communicate together. Sometimes you don’t explain. Sometimes with people you don’t talk. It’s just energy between two people.”