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Tennis

Daniil Medvedev Calls Umpire “A Small Cat” For Not Calling Coaching Violation On Stefanos Tsitsipas

Daniil Medvedev yells at an umpire at the Australian Open.
Image via Wide World of Sports

Every match between Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, including Friday’s Australian Open semifinal, is played in the shadow of the 2018 “Shut Your Fuck Up” incident. Medvedev admitted it after he won today. It’s probably the best active beef in men’s tennis, and the match they played did it justice. Tsitsipas’s offense clattered against Medvedev’s defense brilliantly for the first three sets, until Medvedev won 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. At one point, that feud prompted an outburst and a sting operation.

At 4-4 in the second set, Medvedev double-faulted and lost his serve. After that game, Medvedev gave a gesture to the crowd—it wasn’t captured on the broadcast—and umpire Jaume Campistol hit him with the rare “visible obscenity” code violation. (In press, Medvedev said, “I was just showing everybody that I was cramping—I could not toss the ball with my left hand because everybody is screaming, so my serve was terrible.”)

Enraged that he’d gotten dinged for a hand gesture, Medvedev lit into Campistol for not dinging his opponent for his conduct: Stefanos’s father and coach Apostolos Tsitsipas had been barking at his son in Greek throughout the entire match—as he usually does—and some of those words could have been coaching, which is not permitted. Medvedev asked the umpire if he understood enough Greek to make that judgment, and called him a “small cat” for not disciplining Tsitsipas.

Later in the match, Greek-speaking umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore was stationed in the tunnel near the player’s box to listen to Apostolos Tsitsipas’s shouting, so she could deliver a hand signal to the chair umpire if she heard coaching. She did exactly that at 1-1 in the fourth set, which resulted in a coaching warning and got a smile out of Stefanos.

“My father, look, he’s a person that when he gets into something, when there is a lot of action, his medicine is to talk, and you can’t stop it. It’s something that he does from nature,” Tsitsipas said after his loss. “I’ve talked to him about it. I’ve tried, spent countless hours trying to figure it out with him, but it’s part of him … I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep receiving coaching violations, even though I will never listen to any single thing he says. But it’s fine, they can do that if they want, if they believe it’s right.”

Medvedev had regrets about his own behavior. “I was definitely out of my mind, if we can say like this,” he said. “I was not controlling myself anymore about anything. And that’s actually why I’m really happy to win. Because many matches like this, I would go on to do mistakes, because you lose your concentration a lot when you get in this heat of the moment things. And the next game 15-40, started terrible, I was like, Oh my god, I’m completely losing the fiber of this match, and I’m so happy that I was able to catch it really fast.”

Asked about his history of chewing out umps, such as when he tossed coins at the foot of the umpire’s chair at Wimbledon in 2017, he said, “I regret it all the time because I don’t think it’s nice. I know that every referee is trying to do their best.” Authorities will be better prepared in the next chapter of this feud.