Medvedev earns U.S. Open cheers during, after loss to Nadal

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NEW YORK — Imagine this a week ago: U.S. Open fans going crazy for Daniil Medvedev.

The guy who they loved to boo, who defiantly told them the more they jeered him, the more he would win, was suddenly hearing cheers Sunday.

Medvedev earned them with the way he played.

And with how he acted.

A spirited effort on the court was followed by humble words after it, as he congratulated Rafael Nadal and saluted the crowd following his 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 loss in his first Grand Slam final.

“I mean, was amazing match. It’s an amazing story,” Medvedev said. “All this summer is amazing for me. I will remember every moment of it.”

The 23-year-old Russian was humorous during his postmatch remarks, providing a little more entertainment to a crowd that had already been treated to 4 hours, 50 minutes of it during a riveting match that seemed would be over much, much earlier.

Nadal had won the first sets and then broke Medvedev’s serve for a 3-2 lead in the third. Nobody had come back to win from two sets down in the U.S. Open final in 70 years, and Nadal had lost only once in a Grand Slam tournament when he had that lead.

But Medvedev kept fighting, aided by a crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium that wanted to stay a little longer.

Turns out, they stayed a lot longer.

“Amazing performance and he will learn from this to be stronger and stronger,” said Gilles Cervara, Medvedev’s coach. “It was a great match. We are very disappointed because we felt that he could do it finally in the fifth set.”

Medvedev broke Nadal’s serve in the final game of both the third and fourth sets, and even when it seemed he was out of it in the fifth he refused to give in easily. He broke when Nadal served for the match at 5-2, and had another chance to break in the final game before Nadal finally closed it out.

By then, some fans were even chanting Medvedev’s name.

“I was fighting for every point. I think they appreciated it,” Medvedev said.

“I knew I have to leave my heart out there for them, also. For myself first of all, but for them, also. I think they saw it and they appreciate it.”

He then had fans standing and cheering with his remarks during the trophy ceremony – a far cry from his third-round match , when one fan was seen on camera extending his middle finger toward him. Medvedev had drawn their ire for a series of antics on the court, first snatching the towel from a ballperson, then tossing his racket in the direction of the chair umpire, and finally flashing his middle finger next to his forehead.

When Medvedev trolled them during his postmatch interview that night, arms extended to encourage more boos, he seemed to assure himself a permanent place – at least for the rest of this tournament – on the fans’ list of players they love to hate.

But he was contrite afterward and vowed to be a better person.

He’s already a good player. Medvedev reached the final of four straight hard-court tournaments to move into the top five in the rankings, with his performance at Flushing Meadows his best by far in a major.

“Tonight everybody saw why he’s the No. 4 player in the world already although he’s 23 years old,” Nadal said.

So though Medvedev said he tends to be critical of himself, he had to agree with his new fans that applauded a job well done.

“Have to give myself credit,” he said. “I hope I grew a lot doing these things. But I need to continue and I need to be better.”

Tennis star Kyrgios to fight charge on mental health grounds

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CANBERRA, Australia – Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios will apply to have an assault charge dismissed on mental health grounds, his lawyer told an Australian court on Tuesday.

Lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared on behalf of Kyrgios in a court in the tennis star’s hometown of Canberra and asked for an adjournment so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3, when Kyrgios’ lawyers are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law.

The 27-year-old Australian tennis star will appear in court in person on that date for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July.

The law gives magistrates the power to dismiss a charge if they are satisfied an accused person is mentally impaired, and dealing with an allegation in that way would benefit the community and the defendant.

The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police last December.

The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.

Kukulies-Smith told the court his client’s mental health history since 2015 made the application appropriate, citing a number of public statements made by Kyrgios.

In February, Kyrgios opened up about his performance at the 2019 Australian Open, saying what appeared to be a positive time in his life had been “one of my darkest periods.”

“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family and friends,” he wrote on Instagram. “I felt as if I couldn’t talk or trust anyone. This was a result of not opening up and refusing to lean on my loved ones and simply just push myself little by little to be positive.”

Kyrgios made further references to his mental health struggles during his runs to the final at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.

After ending Daniil Medvedev’s U.S. Open title defense last month to reach the quarterfinals, Kyrgios expressed pride at lifting himself out of “some really tough situations, mentally” and “some really scary places” off the court.

Theakston questioned whether Kyrgios would need to appear in court for the February hearing, but Kukulies-Smith said his client wanted to attend.

Kyrgios was scheduled to play at the Japan Open later Tuesday against Tseng Chun-hsin of Taiwan.

Speaking in Tokyo before his matter returned to court, Kyrgios said it was “not difficult at all” to focus on tennis despite the pending charge.

“There’s only so much I can control and I’m taking all the steps and dealing with that off the court,” he told reporters. “I can only do what I can and I’m here in Tokyo and just trying to play some good tennis, continue that momentum and just try to do my job.”

Wimbledon champ Rybakova beats Keys in Ostrava opener

Agel Open Ostrava - Day One
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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakova came from a set down to defeat Madison Keys 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Agel Open on Monday.

Rybakova had lost to Keys this year at the French Open and Cincinnati.

In other first-round matches in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 6-3, and local hope Petra Kvitova overcame American Bernanda Pera 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Fresh from her second title of the year in Seoul last month, Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia knocked out former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.