Daniil Medvedev withstood an early test from Andrey Rublev before booking his place in his second straight US Open semi-final with a 7-6(6), 6-3, 7-6(5) victory on Wednesday.
“It was tough at the end,” said Medvedev. “Maybe the first time in almost a year I celebrated my win because it was very tough at the end. I felt like I could get in trouble, so I was really happy to get the win in the tie-break. One point decided two sets, so it was a really tough match.”
The third seed, competing in just his second Grand Slam quarter-final, was dominant on serve, winning 89 per cent of first-serve points (51/57) and saving the only break point he faced. But the crucial point of the match came when he faced a third consecutive set point at 6/5 in the first set. The Russian No. 1 made the conscious decision to hold back and let his opponent dictate the rally. After Rublev missed an attacking forehand by a small margin, Medvedev charged back to claim the opening set and carried his momentum into a successful second set.
“In these moments… you feel like you have to fight for every point,” said Medvedev. “At the same time you are like, ‘Okay, I probably lost the set.’ There is more chance of you losing the set from 1/5 than winning it. It was 3/6 on my serve, so I was going for the second serve… On 5/6, I decided not to go for it and he went just a little bit out. I think it was a very tactical game today and I am really happy to go through.”
Medvedev is still yet to drop a set at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this year. The Russian is aiming to become the first man in the Open Era to win the US Open without dropping a set. Neale Fraser swept 21 straight sets to claim the 1960 US Championships title.
Medvedev improves to 13-3 at the US Open. Last year, the 6’6” right-hander became the youngest US Open finalist since Novak Djokovic in 2010 before falling in a five-set thriller to Rafael Nadal in the championship match. The seven-time ATP Tour titlist has now won each of his three ATP Head2Head matches against Rublev in straight sets.
Medvedev will face Dominic Thiem or Alex de Minaur for a spot in the US Open final. The Russian trails Thiem 1-2 in their ATP Head2Head series, but won his most recent contest against the three-time Grand Slam finalist 6-3, 6-1 at the 2019 Coupe Rogers in Montreal. Medvedev is unbeaten in two ATP Head2Head encounters against De Minaur.
Competing in his second US Open quarter-final (2017), Rublev was attempting to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final. The Doha and Adelaide champion, currently at a career-high No. 14 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, earned victories against Jeremy Chardy, Gregoire Barrere, Salvatore Caruso and 2019 semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini to reach the last eight.
“Andrey was playing unbelievable actually… He was playing really good, so I am really happy with my win,” said Medvedev.
In an opening set that featured no break points, both players stood on the baseline and engaged in flat, hard-hitting exchanges. Rublev appeared to have the measure of his opponent, attacking Medvedev’s backhand en route to 5/1 and 6/3 tie-break advantages. But the 2019 runner-up held his nerve when it mattered most. As Rublev attempted to extract one more backhand error, Medvedev found his form on that wing. The 24-year-old turned the set in his favour with backhands up the line and served with power to earn five straight points and a one-set lead.
Medvedev returned from deep behind the baseline and fired consistent groundstrokes to the laces of his opponent to earn short balls. When given the opportunity, the two-time ATP Masters 1000 champion charged up the court to finish points and break for the first time at 3-2. With added confidence, Medvedev stepped inside the baseline and changed directions with huge groundstroke winners up the line to clinch the second set.
Medvedev entered the third-set tie-break in form on serve, winning back-to-back service games to love. The third seed shortened rallies by stepping in on his return and coming to the net to reach 6/5, before converting his first match point with a powerful inside-out forehand.