It was easy to understand Daniil Medvedev’s disappointment as he exited the US Open at the semi-final stage. After Novak Djokovic’s default from the tournament, and due to the absence of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, it felt like a Grand Slam title was there to be grasped. But Medvedev lost his form in his semi-final against Dominic Thiem, and also lost his cool.
The Russian was enraged by a code violation issued to him after he crossed the net in his match against Thiem, after he felt his own serve had incorrectly been called good. A bitter spat with both the chair umpire and tournament referee ensued, but it was clear that Medvedev had lost both his temper and the match.
Thiem eventually emerged the victor in straight sets and went on to win his first Grand Slam by defeating Alexander Zverev in the final, winning the title that Medvedev was so desperate to make his own. In a final four without tennis’ three biggest hitters, the US Open title was up for grabs, and ultimately Medvedev was let down by his frustrations.
“Yeah, I was just really angry,” Medvedev conceded afterwards. “Of course, there was no reason to talk to him. But what surprises me sometimes in tennis is, okay, the supervisor is always there in case, let’s say, for example, a default. He steps up, calls a default. It’s not the decision of an umpire. For example, talking about my code violation today, I mean, what did I do? Did I hurt someone? Did I say something rude? I didn’t do anything. I get a code. I’m like, ‘Supervisor, do something. Why are you sitting here?’ I still don’t know the answer to this question.”
At 24, it’s perhaps understandable that Medvedev’s temper still gets the better of him now and then, but he won’t want to make it a habit. The challenge now is to put those annoyances behind him and focus on the upcoming French Open, with every betting exchange listing him as one of the contenders to win the tournament in Paris.
He’ll face some stiff competition, with Nadal back in action for the first time since before lockdown, and Djokovic eager to make up for his own misdemeanours at the US Open. Then there is the threat of Thiem, who is riding the crest of a wave after winning his first Grand Slam, and Zverev who will be eager to put his near miss behind him and go one better. It’s been proven in that past how in tennis, anger can be a great motivator.
We saw the likes of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors in the past spur themselves on by channelling their emotions into Grand Slam winning performances. That is the challenge facing Medvedev. It’s clear he has the potential to do great things in the sport, and already has one Grand Slam final under his belt, having lost to Nadal in the 2019 US Open final. Now is the time to prove that he can use his Flushing Meadows frustration as a motivator to do great things at Roland Garros this year.