Daniil Medvedev: Tennis’ new ‘bad boy’ could have the last laugh

Daniil Medvedev gestures at the US Open crowd. (Credit: Getty Images)
Daniil Medvedev gestures at the US Open crowd. (Credit: Getty Images)

He’s the pantomime villain of New York who is only two wins away from having the last laugh at the US Open.

Daniil Medvedev, the Russian firebrand who has clashed with ball kids and stuck his finger up to the Flushing Meadows crowd, is in the semi-final of a grand slam for the first time and making his presence felt.

On the court, Medvedev’s recent form suggested he was ready to make an impact. Three finals in as many weeks, including a first Masters series title in Cincinnati, saw him enter the year’s final grand slam ranked as the world No. 5.

And his run to the last four has seen him display admirable fortitude. His impressive defeat of Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals came despite a leg injury - he started the match sporting heavy strapping - and extended his recent run of form to 20 wins in his last 22 matches.

But it’s his fractious relationship with those in the stands which has defined his tournament so far.

The 23-year-old has amassed fines of $19,000 for his various indiscretions in the Big Apple. It’s the reason why Medvedev was booed onto the Arthur Ashe Stadium court before his match with Wawrinka.

Medvedev got the better of Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals. (Credit: Getty Images)
Medvedev got the better of Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals. (Credit: Getty Images)

After his third round success against Feliciano Lopez, when he was also jeered, Medvedev hit back.

“I want all of you to know, when you go to sleep at night, I won because of you,” he said during his post-match interview.

“The energy you’re giving me right now, guys, I think it will be enough for my five next matches. The more you do this, the more I will win, for you guys.”

If it’s safe to assume all tennis fans root for the ultimate sporting gentleman Roger Federer, the prospect of this brash upstart collecting the $3.85 million winner’s cheque will be a tough one to swallow.

Unsurprisingly, Medvedev has found an ally in a fellow wild child.

“Medvedev seems to embrace it which is something unusual because if you put more pressure on yourself you ask the crowd to go more against you,” John McEnroe told Amazon Prime Sport.

“He has made it work to his advantage so far but it would be tough to think it will keep working to his advantage as he plays tougher competition.

“This is awesome. To go to a crowd who has been booing you and say ‘Thanks for booing me. You are the reason I’ve won not once but twice in a row is gutsy.

“I think Medvedev is a very intelligent player out there. Don’t discount his chances.”

Medvedev has, however, shown some contrition during press conferences, calling himself “an idiot” after his fourth round win against Dominik Koepfer. Chrissie Evert, too, took a more wholesome view.

"He is the bad boy of tennis,” she said, “I want to cook him a meal."

Medvedev’s opponent in Friday’s semi-final is Grigor Dimitrov, who got the better of Roger Federer in the last eight.

If Medvedev beats the Bulgarian, fans will have to stomach the prospect of booing a grand slam finalist.

If his comments are to be believed, and his performances have been spurred on by their disdain, dare they boo him again or sit back and enjoy the show?