This is where Marat Safin dropped his shorts to celebrate a winning point and where Mikhail Youzhny broke his racquet nine times and scribbled “SORRI” once in Parisian clay.
The French Open has a proud history of embracing unorthodox Russians and now Daniil Medvedev is hoping to extend the legacy.
“I am happy with life. I’m happy with tennis, ”the 25-year-old world number two said on Friday.
“It doesn’t matter if I lose the first round or if I lose the final. It’s about feeling on the pitch, and now I’ve got it. “
For a player who has yet to win a match at Roland Garros in four visits, that’s a surprisingly optimistic message.
But Medvedev is far from predictable.
Winner of the prestigious ATP final in London last year, he is also a two-time majors finalist.
In March of this year, he became the first man since 2005 not to have called Djokovic, Nadal, Federer or Murray to rank second in the world.
Like the two-time major winner and former world number one Safin, he’s not afraid to play the pantomime villain.
Safin was one point moored at Roland Garros in 2004 for ditching his shorts to celebrate a winning point on the Philippe Chatrier court.
Fifteen years later, the New York Post boldly asserted that “Daniil Medvedev is more New Yorker than most New Yorkers” after his cheeky response to taunts from 14,000 spectators for angrily slapping a ball boy.
“Thank you guys, everyone because your energy tonight has given me victory. If you weren’t here, guys, I would probably lose the game.
“So I want you all to know, when you sleep tonight, I won because of you.” “
Medvedev later apologized, telling reporters: “I have no idea why demons come out when I play tennis. “
– ‘Genius at work? –
At last year’s delayed Roland Garros, Medvedev was penalized by one point for breaking his racket against Marton Fucsovics.
It also cost him the second set before another club outing in Paris.
His trainer Gilles Cervara says that working with the skinny Russian is “like training a genius”.
Medvedev’s antics in Paris last year didn’t quite match Youzhny’s epic 2013 collapse when he destroyed a racket with nine vigorous blows against the courtyard furniture.
This year, the tennis gods looked sympathetically on Medvedev whose runner-up placed him on the other side of the draw against Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and their combined 58 Slam titles.
The organizers of Roland Garros, unlike their counterparts at Wimbledon, based their rankings on the ATP rankings.
As a result, the untitled clay-court Medvedev secured the second seeded title over Nadal whose 88-title career includes 62 clay-court titles and 13 at Roland Garros.
“I don’t really know how I’m going to be seeded at Wimbledon because while I love turf, I haven’t done as well on turf in recent years,” Medvedev said on Friday.
“Ditto for clay. If they had special rules, I would definitely be ranked lower, but if we take the ranking, I’m No. 2, so I have to be ranked No. 2. ”
Safin never made it past the semi-finals in Paris while Youzhny was a quarter-finalist.
Yevgeny Kafelnikov was the last Russian to win the men’s title in 1996.
So is this the year Medvedev made the breakthrough even though he only won one clay court match this year?
“I don’t know if maybe the balls change or these are the conditions because last year we had these Wilson balls which are supposed to be fine for me but it was like 5 degrees when I played my match “, He recalled Friday.
“So far in training I have played amazingly. I didn’t feel it was clay. I played like on hard courts.
“The most important thing is to play well, to have a player who doesn’t like clay either! “
© 2021 AFP