Le Pays De France - Dead fish, small cats and world number one: Three things on Daniil Medvedev

Paris -
Dead fish, small cats and world number one: Three things on Daniil Medvedev
Dead fish, small cats and world number one: Three things on Daniil Medvedev

Dead fish, small cats and world number one: Three things on Daniil Medvedev

Daniil Medvedev on Thursday became just the third Russian man to claim the world number one tennis ranking when he dislodged Novak Djokovic from the top spot.

Text size:

Here AFP Sport looks at three things on the 26-year-old Medvedev, the reigning US Open champion.

Maverick tradition

-- Medvedev joins Yevgeny Kafelnikov (1999) and Marat Safin (2000-01) as the only Russian men to top the ATP rankings.

After hanging up his racquet, 1996 French Open and 1999 Australian Open champion Kafelnikov became a card player, featuring in the World Series of Poker in 2005.

He also tried out professional golf, even playing a European Tour event, the Russian Open, before becoming his country's national champion.

Safin was the 2000 US Open champion and 2005 Australian Open winner, who also led Russia to a first Davis Cup title in 2002.

The colourful Safin once told the ATP that he smashed 1,055 racquets in his career -- his sponsor had kept count.

In 2004, he was docked a point for dropping his shorts in celebration at winning a point in a French Open match.

"I felt it was a great point for me. I felt like pulling my pants down. What's bad about it?"

Medvedev is also creating a name for himself as a character to be reckoned with.

At the 2021 Italian Open in Rome, where he slumped to defeat against compatriot Aslan Karatsev, he turned to the tournament supervisor Gerry Armstrong and pleaded: "Please disqualify me. It's better for everyone."

No stranger to controversy

-- Medvedev is his own man. He was fined $12,000 at the Australian Open this year for blasting an umpire for being "stupid".

Medvedev had claimed that semi-final opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas was being coached by his father.

"His father can talk every point! Bro, are you stupid? His father can talk every point! His father can talk every point! Can you answer my questions please? Can his father talk every point?," screamed Medvedev.

"Oh my God, you are so bad man! How can you be so bad in the semi-final of a Grand Slam? Look at me! I'm talking to you!"

He ended his rant at official Jaume Campistol with a bizarre admonishment: "If you don't (give Tsitsipas a warning), you are a -- how can I call it -- small cat!"

At the 2019 US Open, Medvedev even took on the notoriously demanding New York crowd on his way to the final.

He had even been booed in one match for petulantly snatching his towel from a ball boy before giving the crowd the finger.

"I want all of you to know when you sleep tonight, I won because of you," Medvedev said. "The more you do this, the more I will win for you guys."

Brain power

-- Medvedev studied physics and maths at school, speaks fluent English and French and plays chess to a high standard.

He is also a quick learner. His longtime coach Gilles Cervara recalled when they first teamed up at Cannes.

"I talked to him in French because, first of all, in a foreign country I didn't want anybody to understand what I say to him," Cervara told tennisworld.com.

"So that's why I started to speak French with him. And because he's smart, his brain goes smart, he learned French like this in two years."

There is a lighter side. When he won the 2021 US Open, he performed a "dead fish" celebration -- a gesture copied from the PlayStation game, FIFA, another of Medvedev's passions.