Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev has blown up at a reporter who asked him whether the Russian Olympic Committee team carried a stigma of being cheats.
Medvedev had just beaten Italy's Fabio Fognini in sweltering conditions at the Tokyo Games when he was asked the pointed question, with Russia unable to compete as a nation at the Olympics due to revelations of a state-sponsored doping program.
"Are the Russian Olympic team athletes carrying a stigma of cheaters in these Games after the scandal and how do you feel about it?" a reporter asked, on the final question of his English press conference.
Medvedev was fuming.
"That's the first time in my life I'm not gonna answer a question, man. And you should be embarrassed of yourself," he said.
He then turned to the press officer and said: "I think you should [remove] him from either the Olympic Games, either the tennis tournament.
"I don't wanna see him again in my interviews. Thanks."
The journalist attempted to explain himself but Medvedev began to walk off and said: "That's the first time in my life ... So you should be embarrassed."
The exchange came after another brutal outing in Tokyo, with Medvedev claiming he "could die" in the hot and humid conditions as he slugged it out with Fognini.
"I can finish the match but I can die," Medvedev told the umpire at one stage. "If I die, are you going to be responsible?"
Afterward, Medvedev said he felt "darkness" in his eyes.
"I didn't know what to do to feel better. I was ready to just fall down on the court."
Somehow, the second-seeded Medvedev still pulled out a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over Fognini of Italy to reach the quarterfinals.
Medvedev received medical treatment and had his chest massaged while leading 5-2 in the opening set but then held his serve in the next game to close it out. He then took another medical timeout while trailing 4-3 in the second.
"I felt like my diaphragm has blocked," Medvedev said. "I couldn't breathe properly. It was the most humid day we had so far — maybe the hottest."
With so much suffering, Medvedev took his time between points, which drew protests from Fognini.
Both players were allowed to leave the court for 10 minutes between the second and third sets with an extreme heat rule in effect.
Medvedev said he took a "cold, freezing shower" during the break but that the sharp change in temperature put his body into shock and caused him to cramp.
After holding for a 5-2 lead in the third, Medvedev received yet more medical treatment when a trainer came out onto the court and massaged his left arm and thigh.
Fognini slammed his racket onto the court in disgust when the match was over, then picked the racket up and placed it in a court-side trash can.
Medvedev — if he's up to it — will next face sixth-seeded Carreno Busta, who beat Dominik Koepfer of Germany 7-6 (7), 6-3.
- with AP
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