Daniil Medvedev produced an incredible comeback in Wednesday's Australian Open quarterfinals to progress to the last four - but a lighthearted comment in his post-match interview about Novak Djokovic did not go down well with some of the Australian crowd.
Medvedev suggested that Djokovic had inspired him to fight back from two sets down, after Djokovic was forced to withdraw from the tournament after being deported over a missing COVID vaccination.
'What would Novak do?' - Daniil Medvedev draws lukewarm reception from Australian crowd after epic win
After Djokovic found himself deported from Australia, Medvedev became the highest ranked seed left in the tournament, and he had comfortably moved through the tournament to reach the quarter-finals.
His quarter-final tie with Félix Auger-Aliassime, however, was a much harder fought game for Medvedev. The Russian found himself two-love down after the opening sets, but delivered an immense fightback to win in five sets.
Never count @DaniilMedwed out 🙅♂️
From two-sets-to-love down, the world No.2 completes the comeback to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7(4) 3-6 7-6(2) 7-5 6-4 and advance to his second consecutive #AusOpen semifinal.#AO2022 pic.twitter.com/Pbel08qtGM
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 26, 2022
He spoke in his post-match interview on his exhaustion, after what his interviewer described as one of the best games of the tournament.
When asked how he had managed to find the will to come back from two sets down, Medvedev somewhat cheekily gave a nod to the controversy surrounding Novak Djokovic. Acknowledging how much of an inspiration that Djokovic is as a player, Medvedev said:
I was not playing my best and Félix was playing unbelievable - serving unbelievable. He was all over me, to be honest.
I didn't really know what to do, so I was like...actually, I don't know if people are going to like it, but I told myself 'what would Novak do?'
The comments brought a very mixed response from the crowd, as some spectators cheered his remarks before a loud grouping of boos could be heard.
Medvedev went on to explain that the ability of Djokovic (as well as his fellow superstars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer) to come up with match-winning moments in tough situations was an inspiration to him.
What came to my mind was that he's one of the greatest champions - or Rafa, or Roger, to be honest, they won so many matches like this.
I just thought, "I'm going to make him work". If he wants to win it, he has to fight to the last point - even if it's 5-0, 40-0 for him, I'm going to try and make him tired for the next match. Fight until the last point - and it worked.
I managed to raise my level during the game, especially in the tiebreak. When they closed the roof, I suddenly felt the change in momentum in my game, I suddenly felt that I could go through the court more and serve better.
His mention of Nadal and Federer as he explained his thinking drew a better reception from the Melbourne crowd.
Djokovic remains a deeply controversial figure in Australia. In the midst of one of the world's strictest COVID lockdowns, the Serbian player's attempt to enter the country without a vaccination or reasonable excuse has drawn ire from many of the country's population - particularly in host city Melbourne.
Daniil Medvedev has been given a great opportunity to claim a second grand slam title at the Australian Open, and will face off with Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals on Friday, with the winner of that tie facing either Nadal or Matteo Berrettini in the final.