Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev has returned serve at Alexander Zverev after being described by his German rival as being "one of the most unfair players we have in the world". Medvedev bundled Zverev out in the round of 16 at the Monte Carlo Masters, before being knocked out the quarter-finals of the clay court tournament by Denmark's Holger Rune.
Medvedev, who saved two match points when he beat Zverev in the previous round, complained to the umpire after being distracted by the crowd at the end of the first set. He eventually went down 6-3 6-4 to Rune, before reigniting an ongoing feud with Zverev in a telling moment at the net.
The Russian shook Rune's hand at the net after the straight-sets defeat, before joking that he'd lost because the Dane "played unfair”. Medvedev's comment was an obvious swipe at Zverev, who had bemoaned a number of apparent acts of gamesmanship from Medvedev after his loss to the Russian.
Medvedev mocks Zverev during handshake with Holger Rune
“You played unfair”
At this point, you have to give it to Daniil. He takes crap from no one. Not fans, not players, not anyone.
This man is so cold, he’ll leave icicles hanging from your ears 🥶
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) April 14, 2023
“He is one of the most unfair players we have in the world,” Zverev said about the Russian. “He tries to do everything when he’s behind. He did it in Indian Wells, he did it here.”
Zverev - who also lost to Medvedev at Indian Wells - took issue with a number of toilet breaks the Russian took during their match in Monte Carlo, as well as a bizarre incident where Medvedev tried to remove one of the net posts. “I take fairness and sportsmanship very, very seriously and unfortunately he has none of that,” Zverev said after a frosty post-match handshake between the pair in Monte Carlo.
“The rivalry we have is incredible. We’ve played each other so many times, but one of the reasons why Roger and Rafa were so popular and the rivalry was appreciated all over the world was because they were always fair to each other. Unfortunately you can’t say that about him and that’s just a real shame for me as an athlete.”
Following his defeat to Rune in the quarter-finals, Medvedev was asked about the handshake remark to the Dane and his thoughts on Zverev's comments. The Russian insisted that he is friendly with most competitors on the ATP Tour, with the exception of the German, who he suggested should take a look in the mirror before criticising other players.
Daniil Medvedev hits back after Alexander Zverev comments
“First, I do think that honestly with probably 90 players on tour I’m great friends,” he said. “So I usually feel bad when something on court happens and let’s say I’m not fair play, because I know sometimes I’m not.”
“(But Zverev) is living in his own world. I already had like five players in the locker room coming to me and saying, ‘Come on, Daniil, why are you so unfair?’,” Medvedev joked.
“When he loses, we can find maybe 25 interviews of him where he does say some strange things... when he says someone is not fair play, you’re like, 'OK great. Look at yourself in the mirror'”.
Medvedev says he doesn't "care much" about Zverev's obvious dislike of him, but suggested he may have to pay the German a visit in the locker rooms, if he keeps up the verbal attacks. “It doesn’t disappoint me at all, but again, if in one week he’s going to continue saying, well, I’m going to come to him in the locker room and say ‘let’s discuss what’s wrong’,” Medvedev added.
“Tell me, I’m gonna tell you, and maybe we never gonna speak again and we are gonna be enemies or whatever. But at this moment I don’t care much.”
Medvedev broke back to 2-2 in the fourth game of the second set, but swiped his racket on the ground in frustration after losing the match and failing to reach his sixth straight final this year. The Russian has won four titles in 2023, while Rune is aiming for a first title of the year.
The 19-year-old Dane next plays 21-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner, who eased past Djokovic's conqueror Lorenzo Musetti 6-2 6-2 in an all-Italian quarterfinal. Reigning champion Stefanos Tsitsipas crashed out in Monte Carlo after slumping to a 6-2 6-4 defeat against American Taylor Fritz.
It means the top three seeds have now been knocked out of the clay-court tournament following 22-time grand slam champion Djokovic's exit in the third round. Greek second seed Tsitsipas - the back-to-back Monte Carlo champion - was never in the mix against Fritz, who reached the last four of a Masters event for the first time.
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