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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Wednesday, April 10, 2024


"“What if Hawk-Eye shows it out, will you apologize?" Daniil Medvedev told chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani.

Photo credit: Julian Finney/Getty

Anger management is a vital skill set on red clay.

Fury fueled Daniil Medvedev and devoured Andrey Rublev hours apart in Monte-Carlo today.

More: Alcaraz out of Monte-Carlo

Aussie Alexei Popyrin upset defending champion Rublev 6-4, 6-4 in a self-assured performance on Court Rainier III.

"I am feeling really comfortable on it and happy to beat a guy who was in form, confident and the defending champ. It was an awesome match,” Popyrin said afterward.

World No. 46 Popyrin scored his sixth career Top 10 win—and first since he toppled Felix Auger-Aliassime in Rome last May.

Popyrin broke serve three times and successful denied Rublev the rhythm he craves from the baseline, but mixing in short angles, drop shots and higher, heavier topspin drives.

"The idea was not to give him the same ball," Popyrin said. "He is probably the best player from the baseline when you give him rhythm, so I tried to change the pace, height and spin and I think it worked really well for me today.”

Popyrin set up an all-Aussie round of 16 match against Alex de Minaur.

The 11th-seeded de Minaur rallied past Tallon Griekspoor 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. De Minaur, who upset Novak Djokovic at United Cup last January, has split two career meetings with Popyrin. The winner of the all-Aussie clash will face world No. 1 Djokovic or Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

Rublev, who rallied to edge Holger Rune in the 2023 Monte-Carlo final, was his own worst enemy at times, committing 13 unforced errors in losing his second straight opener after a first-round bye. Rublev lost to Tomas Machac 6-4, 6-4 in his Miami Open opener last month.

The defeat means Rublev, like Medvedev, has yet to defend a tournament title. Rublev has won all 15 of his ATP titles in 15 different cities.

Though a raging Rublev couldn’t overcome resentment, a ranting Medvedev channeled anger to action.

Medvedev subdued both his anger and acrobatic Gael Monfils in a 6-2, 6-4 victory.

Incensed by what he believed were a couple of blown calls midway through the second set, Medvedev unloaded on both a linesman and chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani at different times.

Venting settled Medvedev, who cleared his head then tore through five straight games to set up an all-Russian round of 16 vs. Karen Khachanov.

Funky bounces, shaky footing and ball mark disputes can make clay play a frustrating endeavor for an emotionally-charged player like Medvedev.

"When [Mohamed Lahyani] comes in and I see his edit, I'm like, he's literally going to say it's in when it's out. I told him, Okay, what do we do if it's in? Because I know it's out," Medvedev told the media in Monte-Carlo. "What do we do after the match if I lose this game, which I lost, because it would be 40-Love and not 30-15.

"Then I was, like, Okay, calm down, Daniil. Let's go for next point, let's go for next games. What happens next if the ball is even more out and the line umpire doesn't say anything? The ball is very slow. He's right there. I have no idea how it's possible that he doesn't say out.

"I go crazy. I lose two games because I go crazy. I calm down. I win the match, so I'm happy. That's my part of the story, I guess."

Serving at 1-2 in the second set, Medvedev was upset that a Monfils drive that appeared to land slightly long was called good by both the linesman and chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani, who inspected the mark and ruled the ball good.

Hawk-Eye replay showed the shot was long, though the line-calling technology is not 100 percent accurate, in this case, it appeared Hawk-Eye got it right and officials got it wrong.

“What if Hawk-Eye shows it out, will you apologize? What if I lose this game?” said Medvedev to Lahyani during their on-court discussion.

When the same linesman appeared to miss another call along the same baseline, Medvedev began barking at the young linesman, prompting Lahyani to step in as a human shield to defuse the situation.

“Please don’t shout at him,” Lahyani told Medvedev. “He can make a mistake. Everyone can make a mistake as well.”

Medvedev then botched a routine forehand volley into net. A double fault and netted forehand but Medvedev in a break-point bind.

Medvedev saved break point but double-faulted again handing the Frenchman a second break point. Running down a drop shot, Monfils coaxed the error as Monte-Carlo fans roared in support of his break for 3-1.

Monfils, who had struggled to hold throughout the set, held to confirm the break for 4-1 and seemed poised to force a final set.

A frustrated Medvedev unloaded his frustration on chair umpire Lahyani during the changeover. Ranting about the call while swatting in frustration at the overhang designed to protect players from the sun.

“It’s out! It’s out!” said Medvedev.

“If I’m wrong I will apologize,” Lhayani replied.

“How can you apologize? I lost the freaking game! Oh my God…You guys don’t see anything,” Medvedev said.

All that chatter helped Medvedev reset as he held for 2-4.

Attacking the Frenchman’s forehand, Medvedev dug in to earn a break point in the seventh game. In a lengthy backhand-to-backhand exchange, Monfils blinked, sending a backhand into the tape as Medvedev broke back.

The Australian Open finalist held at 30 to level the set after eight games.

Showing his improvisational skills, Monfils tossed the racquet to his left hand and thumped a slick left-handed volley winner to extend the ninth game.

That magical moment wasn’t enough to halt the surging Medvedev, who again attacked the forehand drawing the error to break for 5-4.

Medvedev slammed shut a tricky set with a confident love hold, a handshake for the popular Frenchman and a “sorry” to chair umpire Lahyani.

“No, no I think you are right, the Hawk-Eye showed [the call] that way,” Lahyani told Medvedev afterward.

“In or out?” Medvedev wrote on the court-side camera asking fans to weigh in with their own call.

"Controlling the crazy" helped Medvedev withstand a tricky test.

"Actually, I managed to calm myself down again, saying to myself I don't want to lose the match because of what happened now because of me getting crazy," Medvedev said. "I want to continue playing the way I should play. I want to continue to try to win, and I managed to do it.

"So I'm pretty happy sometimes. Sometimes if you don't control the crazy in the moment you have to control the crazy after the moment, and I didn't control it best, but I managed to do it much better than sometimes before in my career. That's why I managed to win the match."


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