“Every search for a hero must begin with something every hero needs: a villain.”
That quote from the much-loved Tom Cruise classic ‘Mission Impossible II’ should resonate more with those who have been keeping a watchful eye on this year’s US Open.
The 23-year-old World Number Five Dannil Medvedev is really, truly relishing his role as the antagonist of Flushing Meadows this time around, after perpetually provoking the ire of the crowd.
His unabashed on-court manner has caught considerable attention, and Medvedev is now heading into the Quarter-Final of the tournament - the furthest he’s managed in any Grand Slam tournament since turning professional in 2014.
He is now just three matches away from doing the unthinkable; becoming the 2019 US Open Men’s Champion.
The menace from Moscow has embraced his pathway to the last eight of the competition, a progression that has incensed the majority of attendees that have flocked to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Medvedev was fined for his conduct during his third-round match against Feliciano López after improper use of a towel that he slammed onto the court, and gestured with his middle finger to the crowd who had caught on.
The boos had begun. But so had Medvedev.
After match-point to defeat the Spaniard, the gigantic gesture of open, failing arms to absorb the tsunami of cat-calls could become the defining image of this year's tournament. This is Medvedev's house.
“First of all I can say thank you all, guys, because your energy tonight gave me the win,” Medvedev addressed the crowd.
“Because if you were not here, guys, I would probably lose the match, because I was so tired. I was cramping yesterday; it was so tough for me to play.
So I want all of you to know, when you sleep tonight: I won because of you.
When you sleep tonight. I won because of you.
The delightful relish in those words is still palpable on paper.
“Again, the only thing I can say is the energy you’re giving me right now, guys, I think it will be enough for my five next matches,” he said. “The more you will do this, the more I will win — for you guys.”
On Labor Day weekend, the Russian again riled the unforgiving crowd after defeating Dominik Köpfer in four sets.
Guys, continue to give me this energy - you're the best, you're the best!"
And more worrying in that ‘search for the hero’ to defeat the Russian rebel just got a little more worrying as defending champion Novak Djokovic bowed out in the fourth round.
Crowds in the Arthur Ashe Stadium were also hostile to defending champion Djokovic, who retired in his fourth set to allow the 2016 winner Stan Wawrinka passage through to the tie with Medvedev. Dojokovic was already two sets down to the Swiss.
With the backdrop of yet another trepidatious period of searing tensions between the United States of America - the US having pulled out of the Cold War Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty - Medvedev's possible victory to become the first Russian men’s Grand Slam champion since Marat Safin in 2000 - and on US home soil - would be accentuated immensely.
Medvedev is currently joint third favourite, alongside his next opponent Wawrinka, for the tournament, and behind only two former champs Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
Stan Wawrinka; you have your villain, is it time to be the hero?
However, just salivate at the sweet soliloquy Medvedev could provide if he picks up his first ever Grand Slam win on September 8.