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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Tennis

Daniil Medvedev embracing his US Open heel status

Daniil Medvedev

You don’t see too many professional athletes embracing the heel role in sports these days, but Daniil Medvedev is one of the few.

Medvedev has turned himself into an enemy of the fans at the US Open, the guy they root against. And he seems to be loving it.

Medvedev’s heel status began in the third round of the major when he beat Feliciano Lopez. Medvedev snapped at a ballperson, triggering a code violation. He flipped off some people and got into it with the chair umpire. Then after his match, Medvedev thanked the fans for energizing him with their boos.

After he won his fourth-round match, it was more of the same:

He has played his way into the semifinals against Grigor Dimitrov, which is the best major finish of his young career. You have to respect the way the 23-year-old isn’t shying away from the negative attention and instead is leaning into it. You may not like it, but he is using his villain status to help propel his play.

Manu Ginobili supports countryman Diego Schwartzman at US Open

Manu Ginobili

Tennis is becoming a big thing among NBA legends.

Not only was Kobe Bryant hanging out at the US Open and supporting his guy Novak Djokovic, but former San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili also attended the grand slam as a fan. Manu was seated among countryman Diego Schwartzman’s group during the Argentine’s quarterfinals match against Rafael Nadal Wednesday night.

Among those in the group was former player Guillermo Cañas, also an Argentine.

Ginobili doesn’t just watch tennis; he also plays it. Tony Parker shared a photo on Instagram two days ago showing the two on the court:

Tennis is an individual sport that requires lots of running and movement and produces a great workout. It’s no wonder Ginobili, Parker and Kobe are turning to it in retirement.

As far as celebrity athlete fan power rankings go, Nadal still has the big edge on Schwartzman though.

Tip via Big Daddy

Rafael Nadal did not like US Open fans booing Novak Djokovic

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal stood up for fellow top men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic.

Nadal is set to take on Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals of the US Open. He is the only member of the “big three” remaining in the tournament after Djokovic lost in the fourth round to Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer was defeated by Grigor Dimitrov in five sets.

Djokovic’s exit was controversial due to his retirement after being down two sets and trailing in the third set when he decided he could no longer continue. Djokovic received boos from the US Open fans, which did not sit well with Nadal.

“I believe that he’s a super athlete,” Nadal said of Djokovic Monday night. “If he had to go is because he was not able to continue at all. For him is much more painful than for anyone on that Arthur Ashe Stadium. He missed an opportunity to win another Grand Slam.”

Nadal is right; there is no way Djokovic wanted to miss out on a grand slam opportunity. Nole was dealing with a shoulder injury prior to the tournament and was bothered by it in the early rounds of the major. The question some are wondering is why he didn’t make it through four more games to give Wawrinka a clean win. Why did he choose to retire when he did? Nadal’s point seems to be, don’t concern yourself with those issues; if Djokovic could have kept competing, he would have.

Matteo Berrettini called for coaching violation during US Open match

Matteo Berrettini

Matteo Berrettini was called for a violation during his US Open quarterfinals match against Gael Monfils after the chair umpire saw his coach sharing advice during the match.

Berrettini had just broken Monfils to go up 4-2 in the fifth set and was getting prepared to serve. That’s when the umpire apparently saw some coaching from Vincenzo Santopadre and called a violation.

It’s unclear exactly what Santopadre did to earn the violation in that instance, but he had been giving Berrettini directions and signals using his hands at points during the match.

ESPN’s commentators noted it was the third coaching violation given out on the men’s side of the tournament this year. Berrettini was up 5-2 in the set after holding serve to win that game, but he allowed Monfils to rally back and tie things at five.

The violation being called caused many to recall what happened with Serena Williams last year, who was called for the same violation and lost her mind, leading to a huge meltdown and major controversy. Rather than flip out on the umpire and blame him, Berrettini kept playing and won the game.

Roger Federer takes medical timeout after losing fourth set against Grigor Dimitrov

Roger Federer short hair

Roger Federer made a rare move during his quarterfinal match against Grigor Dimitrov at the US Open on Tuesday night.

Federer lost the fourth set of his match against Dimitrov 4-6 to send things to a deciding fifth set. Federer was sitting on the side of the court during the set break and requested the physio, who came out to speak with him. The two then walked into the locker room for some privacy off the court.

The medical timeout lasted about nine minutes. Federer tapped Dimitrov’s chair as he returned to the court, almost as an apology for taking so long. The fifth set then got underway with Federer serving.

According to ESPN’s announcers, the match represented just Federer’s third five-set match in the last year and a half. He had won the first and third set by 6-3 scores and lost the second and fourth 4-6. He quickly fell behind 0-4 in the fifth set and lost it 2-6.

The 38-year-old reached the semis of the French Open and blew a double-championship point at Wimbledon against Novak Djokovic in other majors this year. He lost in the fourth round at the Australian Open and the quarters at the US Open.

Gael Monfils shares reason for creation of GEMS Life Instagram with girlfriend Elina Svitolina

Elina Svitolina Gael Monfils

There have been plenty of athlete couples in sports, but few have done what Gael Monfils and Elina Svitolina have done. The two created an Instagram account to announce their relationship and have maintained the account ever since.

Monfils and Svitolina have been dating since last year and went public with their relationship in January. During an interview with ESPN’s Chris McKendry Tuesday from the site of the US Open, Monfils shared the story behind their “GEMS Life” Instagram account.

“I guess when we decided to date seriously and we had been together a couple of months, we arrived in Australia, and it was way easier for us to announce it on Instagram,” Monfils said. “The press could then see what we wanted to show. And then we had fun with it. We decided to share some moments.

“I think now social media is a big part of our job. We enjoy it and that’s why we decided to keep going on Instagram.”

The two form quite the couple in tennis. Monfils, 33, is the world No. 13 player and has reached the quarterfinals at the US Open. He has won eight career ATP titles. Svitolina, 24, is ranked No. 5 and has won 13 WTA titles. She has reached the semifinals at the US Open and is hoping to reach her first career major final.

This was their first Instagram post on the GEMS Life account, which came on Jan. 17:

View this post on Instagram

“ There is nothing wrong with being different. “

A post shared by G.E.M.S (@g.e.m.s.life) on

The account shows them training, traveling, and enjoying life together. Their relationship also hasn’t adversely affected their playing careers as their showings at Flushing Meadows have demonstrated. Contrarily, we saw another top player’s career tank while she was in a high-profile relationship years ago.

Rafael Nadal: Playing in front of Tiger Woods is ‘honor’

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal won his fourth round match at the US Open on Monday night, and he captured victory in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium that included one very special guest: Tiger Woods.

Woods and Nadal are both Nike-sponsored athletes in individual sports and among the best players in the history of their games. Tiger was really getting into things while cheering on his buddy:

Nadal, who beat Marin Cilic 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, was asked in his post-match interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi what it was like playing in front of Woods. Nadal was effusive with his praise for Woods.

“For me it’s a huge honor. To play in front of all of [the fans] is a huge honor, but to play in front of Tiger for me is a very special thing,” Nadal said. “I always said I never had big idols, but I have to say one idol is him. I always try to follow every shot he hit during the whole year. For me it’s a big pleasure to have him here supporting, means a lot. He’s a big legend of his sport, one of the legends of the sport. I want to congratulate him on one of the most amazing comebacks ever, winning the Masters this year.”

Rinaldi then asked Rafa if the two had ever played golf together, leading to a joke from the Spaniard.

“It’s much better if Tiger doesn’t see my swing.”

Woods was watching the match from a suite in the stadium. He was joined by his son, daughter and girlfriend Erica Herman.

The quarterfinals of the major are now set. Nadal will face Diego Schwartzman for a shot at reaching the semifinals.