Wayne Coffey, Special for USA TODAY Sports
Published 9:17 p.m. ET Sept. 3, 2019 | Updated 12:14 a.m. ET Sept. 4, 2019CLOSE
Nike brought together 11 of the best professional female tennis players for a “Queens of the Future” event celebrating the growth of women in sport.
USA TODAYFLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. – Daniil Medvedev took the Arthur Ashe Stadium court Tuesday afternoon as the No. 5 player in the world and the No. 1 villain at the US Open.He is a fast-climbing 23-year-old Russian with the body of a swizzle stick, and enough strips of physio tape on his 6-foot-6 body – inside both legs and his right arm – to suggest he was trying out to be a mummy.You never know quite what Medvedev will do, or how he will play. He heads into his first Grand Slam semifinal Thursday when his opponent will be Grigor Dimitrov, who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in US Open history late Tuesday night, with a five-set victory over 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer.“(Medvedev is) already top five, so he’s already at the top (of the sport),” said Stan Wawrinka, the three-time Slam champion Medvedev took down Tuesday.The hottest player on the tour this summer and winner of more matches (49) than anyone else in 2019, Medvedev’s 7-6 (6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory came despite nine double faults in the first set and a quad injury he suffered in the first game.But the greater surprise was Medvedev’s comportment. In his third-round match against Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, Medvedev angrily snatched a towel from a ball person, drawing a code violation and boos from the fans. Then he was caught pressing his middle finger against his temple as he walked to his changeover chair, the flip-off shown on the big screen. More boos followed, especially when he spoke directly to the crowd in his on-court interview after the match.“Thank you guys, because your energy tonight gave me the win,” Medvedev said. “If you weren’t here, I would probably lose the match. I was so tired. I want all of you to know when you sleep tonight I won today because of you.”He outdid himself the next round, defeating German qualifier Dominik Koepfer and again getting booed, before he sarcastically thanked the crowd once more, waving his arms and inviting them to bring on the vitriol.On Tuesday, the Ashe crowd booed Medvedev when he came on court for the match, but Medvedev didn’t engage this time.“After the previous round, what I got I deserved,” Medvedev said. “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.”Gilles Cervara, Medvedev’s coach, has presided over the rapid rise of Medvedev, who wasn’t in the top 50 this time last year. Cervara admitted he spoke to Medvedev about toning things down.“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,” Cervara said. “Of course he likes to play also with it, but he didn’t cross too much the line.”Patrick Cohn, a sports psychologist and founder of Peak Performance Sports in Windermere, Florida, works with many tennis players in his practice. Though he doesn’t know Medvedev, he believes that his response was a heat-of-the-moment way to motivate himself on a night when he wasn’t feeling good physically.“Athletes thrive on high intensity,” Cohn told USA TODAY Sports. “They need that adrenaline rush to perform their best. One of my theories is that the crowd reaction gave him the intensity to power him through the match.“He loses emotional control, and then the fans turn on him, and he uses that to fire him up, (as if to say), ‘OK, I’ve got two opponents now and I’m going to show you both.’ ”Medvedev confounded Wawrinka with his flat backhands and shifting strategy, coming to net 13 times in the opening set, and then only four times in the next two.“He has a tough game to play,” Wawrinka said. “He’s showing the last few weeks that anything can happen with him, so for sure he’s going to have a shot (to win the tournament).”Medvedev called for the trainer twice in the first set, getting his left quadricep wrapped, and then unwrapped. He said he wasn’t sure if he could play through it, but got better and better as the match went on.So he moves on to the final four, uncharted territory for him.Follow Wayne Coffey on Twitter @wr_coffeyAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide
Wayne Coffey, Special for USA TODAY Sports