Daniil Medvedev is no stranger to crowd hostility and once again seemed to revel in the role of pantomime villain as he overcame mercurial home favourite Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open on Thursday and took a swipe at the feisty home fans.
At the floodlit Rod Laver Arena, the world number two showed steely resolve and remained calm as a robot in the face of fanatic support for Kyrgios to secure a clinical 7-6(1) 6-4 4-6 6-2 win.
Yet the Russian could not hide his irritation during his on-court interview. Asked by former champion Jim Courier how he managed to keep his emotions in control, the 25-year-old said he did not have a choice as he was getting booed between his first and second serves.
As Courier started explaining that a few fans were actually imitating Cristiano Ronaldo's famous "Siuuu!" goal celebration and not booing him, Medvedev lost his calm."Sorry, I can't hear you. Show some respect for Jim Courier. Thank you, guys. Let him speak please," Medvedev said, addressing the crowd, before writing "siuuuu" on the broadcast camera lens.
"Break point, second serve and people are cheering like you already made a double fault. That's just disappointing ... it's not everybody who is doing it but those who are doing it probably have a low IQ," he later told Eurosport.
Medvedev famously got on the wrong side of the crowd at the 2019 U.S. Open, becoming the player the Flushing Meadows fans loved to hate. His antics at that tournament included angrily snatching a towel from a ballperson in his third round match and showing the crowd his middle finger. He then sarcastically thanked them, saying, "the energy you're giving me right now, guys, I think it will be enough for my next five matches".
Medvedev eventually won back most of the U.S. Open crowd after taking Rafa Nadal to five sets in a pulsating 2019 final and winning the 2021 title at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Raducanu takes positives from defeat
Britain's Emma Raducanu said she will take the positives from her painful Australian Open exit on Thursday when a blistered racket hand contributed to a three-set defeat by Danka Kovinic.
The 19-year-old, who caused a sensation in September by winning the U.S. Open as a qualifier, went down 6-4 4-6 6-3 in a tense battle.
Raducanu needed her hand taped after the fifth game of the first set and was unable to strike her forehand with any power thereafter, resorting to a chipped slice.
Kovinic was initially thrown by it, but eventually got the better of the 17th seed to progress to the third round where she will face former world number one Simona Halep.
Raducanu recently caught COVID-19 and played only one match in the run-up to making her debut at the Grand Slam -- hardly an ideal preparation.
She recorded an impressive win over former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens on Tuesday, but despite showing lots of grit she could not resist 98th-ranked Kovinic.Stephens said after losing to Raducanu that she would face lots of "ups and downs" as she tried to live up to the expectations now on her young shoulders.
But the way Raducanu dealt with misfortune on Thursday and came up with a plan that almost worked was impressive."I've been struggling with blisters since I started playing really in Australia, because 21 days, no tennis, my hands got pretty soft," Raducanu told reporters."I have been trying to like tape it for every practice, and it would like harden and dry out, but then once I would play again, like another layer would just keep ripping off."
Raducanu said some of her team had advised her not to play, but she was happy she gave it a go. "Probably hit more (sliced forehands) in that match than I have in two or three years. That was definitely one thing I learned, that nice slice forehand is not so bad and I have some sort of hand skills," she told reporters.