There are villains in sports, and then there are heels. Daniil Medvedev is less a villain than a heel.
He would fit right into professional wrestling. He would prance around the stage riling up the crowd and baiting onlookers into jeering him. It would be emotionally vivid television.
Medvedev likes to play himself up as the bad guy. He doesn’t care what other people think about him. This has been consistent for him in his career. Late in the 2021 U.S. Open final against Novak Djokovic, the crowd was fully on Djokovic’s side, which is notable, since Djokovic has often had to battle against pro-Roger Federer, pro-Rafael Nadal crowds in his illustrious career. Medvedev, on the verge of winning his first major title, had to defeat the New York crowd, not just Djokovic. He got there, but it was a struggle.
Maybe one might have thought Medvedev would enter 2022 being more conscious of the need to win the crowd to his side.
He beat Australian Nick Kyrgios in four intense sets. Then, after the match in an on-court interview — in front of a Melbourne crowd which was disappointed its favored player lost — Medvedev referred to the “low-IQ” crowd.
Medvedev stared into the face of a thunderstorm and laughed. He loves the tumult instead of trying to contain it like a public relations manager might.
One can say that Medvedev unnecessarily stirred up a hornet’s nest with these entirely unnecessary remarks. One can matter-of-factly agree with the notion that Medvedev didn’t have to do — and shouldn’t have done — what he did.
Yet, even if Medvedev’s behavior was off-putting, stop for a moment and realize that a man who isn’t overly concerned with public opinion is therefore not extremely preoccupied with that part of his existence as a professional athlete.
Medvedev, though definitely a heel, is able to focus on his tennis and not let other people’s opinions get in the way of his tennis.
That is something tennis betting analysts can take to the bank, in more ways than one.