Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz charge into U.S. Open semis
Posted on: 07 Sep, 2023 at 04:02 AM
Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
Former champion Daniil Medvedev defeated fellow Russian Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 to move into the semifinals at the U.S. Open, surviving a searing September day in New York on Wednesday.
The next test figures to be at least as hard for Medvedev, who will oppose defending champion Carlos Alcaraz on Friday. The top-seeded Spaniard eliminated 12th-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in the last quarterfinal match.
Medvedev and Rublev endured 2 hours, 48 minutes of competition in the scorching afternoon sun, with a heat index that reached as high as 106 degrees. Both Medvedev, the No. 3 seed, and Rublev, seeded No. 8, gritted out the match but clearly felt the effects of the heat as they sometimes looked dazed as they sat on their respective sides with ice wraps, towels and water.
"You cannot imagine. One player gonna die and they're gonna see," Medvedev said loudly enough for the television cameras to pick up as he toweled off in the third set.
Medvedev needed two medical timeouts for inhaler treatment.
Despite the brutal conditions, Rublev didn't fall easily to his longtime friend. Rublev, with Medvedev up 5-4 in the final set, fought off four match points before finally hitting the ball into the net to end the game, and the match.
The two met at midcourt for a brief hug, clearly too exhausted and too overheated for much more interaction.
"It was brutal. The only good thing I see in these conditions is that both suffer. Usually there's one that suffers. It was tough for both of us," said Medvedev, who won the 2021 title and will play in his fourth U.S. Open semifinal on Friday.
The match was much closer than the final line score indicated. Medvedev won only eight more points than his opponent -- 103 to 95 -- but Rublev couldn't come up with the key points when he needed them. Despite the close points differential, Medvedev won 62 percent of the total games compared to 38 percent for Rublev.
Rublev also hit 32 winners and 37 unforced errors, compared to 26 and 40, respectively, for Medvedev.
Rublev fell to 0-9 in quarterfinals of Grand Slam tournaments. He jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set and was up at least one break point in each set but couldn't capitalize. While Rublev broke Medvedev's serve five times, Medvedev converted nine of his 19 chances, providing the difference.
The conditions made it difficult to execute a game plan.
"I tried to go for it, tried to run and he did the same," Medvedev said. "Before points I was like, 'Wow, he can't run anymore', so I tried to go and make him run and run and run, but he was there all the time. But we were tired all the time. Brutal conditions and super tough to win."
When asked at center court about his level of play in New York, Medvedev clearly was confident.
"Ten out of 10," he said.
In the night match, Alcaraz again showed the form that led him to his second career Grand Slam title at Wimbledon this summer. He never lost his serve while converting all five of his break-point opportunities.
Though he missed the Australian Open this year due to a hamstring injury, Alcaraz has won 24 of his past 25 matches in major events. He got to the semifinals of the French Open this year before prevailing at Wimbledon.
"I'm feeling really comfortable playing on this court, playing here in New York," Alcaraz said. "I'm showing my best level here on this court. ...
"I'm feeling great physically. (My) game is strong enough mentally, so I think I'm ready to play a great battle against Medvedev in the semifinal."
Zverev, 26, is still looking for his Grand Slam breakthrough. He lost his lone career major final to Austria's Dominic Thiem in the 2020 U.S. Open title match.
Alcaraz holds a 2-1 career edge in matches against Medvedev, with both wins coming this year. The Spaniard earned straight-sets victories in the final at Indian Wells, Calif., and in the semifinals at Wimbledon.
--Field Level Media