The Baseline Awards are back with a look at the noteworthy accomplishments of 2021.


As he’s climbed up the rankings over the past several years, one word that can perhaps be attributed to Daniil Medvedev after winning a huge match is “nonplussed.”

Rarely, if ever, has there been a player with as lowkey a celebration as the Russian. Reaching a Grand Slam final, like he did at the US Open in 2019 and at the Australian Open this year, usually elicits the same reaction as coming through a first-rounder at a 250-level event.

Even when he captured the title at the ATP Finals last year, Medvedev was as cool as a cucumber.

Coming into this year’s US Open, the site of his first major breakthrough two years ago, Medvedev was a man on a mission. The number-two seed only dropped one set on the way to a second Grand Slam final of 2021. There, he would face the player who denied him in Melbourne, Novak Djokovic, the top seed who was looking to complete one of the rarest feats in professional tennis, the calendar-year Grand Slam.

In the semifinals, Djokovic was pushed to the limit by Alexander Zverev, escaping in five sets. There would be no chance for such heroics in the final, though, as a relentless Medvedev took a comfortable two-sets-to-none lead. Up 5-4, 40-30, in the third, Djokovic missed a return into the net, giving Medvedev the first Grand Slam title of his career.

Surely, he would acknowledge this occasion, right?

What he did next was the most surprising post-match celebration of the year.

An avid video gamer, Medvedev brought a bit of FIFA to Flushing Meadows with the “dead fish celebration,” a move players pull off after scoring a goal. As the new US Open winner said post-match: “Only legends will understand. What I did after the match was L2 + left.”

Medvedev made tremendous strides in the game over the past 12 months. It looks like his post-match routine is doing the same.