Danil Medvedev may have given up playing FIFA, but the former world No. 1 can still pull off a soccer trick—or two—on the tennis court.

Medvedev, who famously mimicked the “dead fish” L2 + Left celebration when he captured the 2021 US Open title, showed off a different kind of football skill in his China Open debut, headbutting a ball into the open court against Tommy Paul.

The No. 2 seed was playing in China for the first time since 2019, and made the most of an overdue debut in Beijing when he roared past the 2023 Australian Open semifinalist, 6-2, 6-1.


Medvedev reposted the video, which quickly went viral on Twitter/X, with a ⚽️ emoji, celebrating his victorious return to action in his first match after finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in Flushing Meadows earlier this month.

Thoughtful as ever after knocking out an in-form American, the self-proclaimed hard-court specialist weighed in on the China Open surface, which he believes will favor him as he looks to win his sixth title of the season in a stacked draw of ATP talent.

“I think I can play well in these conditions and win tournaments but I don’t think it’s very good for tennis,” Medvedev mused, “because every player is thinking, ‘Why should I go for the line? There is no need.’”

The 27-year-old will next face Australian rival Alex de Mnaur for a spot in the quarterfinals; the two have split their 2023 meetings, with Medvedev avenging his National Bank Open defeat to the Aussie three weeks later in New York.

Might Medvedev pull off another trick or two with the last eight on the line?