The ATP tennis final of 2020, held at the O2 in London, has been won by Daniil Medvedev the 24-year-old, Russian, born in Moscow. It was in his own words, the biggest victory of his life.
You might have expected some wild celebrations. However, instead, he glanced towards his box and shrugged his shoulders Then, he removed a tennis ball from his shorts’ pocket, performed another slight shrug and began walking, devoid of any expression, towards the net where he shook the hand of his beaten opponent, Dominic Thiem.
Subdued behaviour, some might say. But if he wins any more titles, including one of tennis’s Grand Slam titles, he maintains that he will non-celebrate again. “It is going to be my thing,” said the young Russian, after beating Thiem 4-6, 7-6, (7-2), 6-4, to lift the trophy. He said afterwards that although he has seen some players non-celebrate after scoring goals in football; in tennis, he believes that he is the first.
The 24-year-old said that he had decided not to celebrate during the US Open, after having been given a tough time by the crowd at the Louis Armstrong Stadium. In his own words, he said, “I don’t like to celebrate my victories. This is my thing, and it’s the way I like it.”
The occasion we refer to was the US Open in 2019, and it’s one that could prove to be a key moment in the making of this young Russian tennis player.
Medvedev had something of a moody relationship with the crowd during the American Open last year, after being booed for his bad behaviour during his third-round match against Feliciano López.
In a fit of temper, he snatched the towel off a ball-person and threw it away. The referee gave him a code violation, and the Russian threw his racket away and gave the crowd a middle-finger gesture. He’s a bit like a modern-day version of John McEnroe, seriously. McEnroe, incidentally, is the 3rd youngest player to have won the US Men’s Openback in 1979.
Medvedev went on to fight his way through the final, where he was beaten in a five-set thriller, which ran for nearly five hours, by Rafael Nadal. His gutsy display did at least draw some sympathy from the crowd, and his loser’s speech, which was delivered with some humility, was greeted with a modicum of appreciation. But it seems it was then that he decided to non-celebrate wins going forward.
The US hasn’t got much to cheer about on the men’s ATP tour right now. There isn’t one American in the Top 20. The closest is John Isner in 25th place. The Russians have three players in the 20. Karen Kachanov in 20th place, Andrey Rublev in 8th, and of course Daniil Medvedev, who after Sunday’s ATP victory is now 4th in the world rankings.
With the majority of the plaudits being handed out to others like Thiem and Tsitsipas, Medvedev was something of a surprise package at the ATP finals, but besting Thiem, who was beginning to look unbeatable as the tournament progressed, was quite an achievement for the young Russian. It can now only be a matter of short time before he lands one of the Grand Slam titles.