A Tale Of Two Stars: Medvedev, Dimitrov Set For US Open Showdown
ATPTour.com previews Friday's first semi-final
As the US Open hits the business end, Friday’s first semi-final pits Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, who is blazing through the summer North American hard-court swing, against Grigor Dimitrov, a Bulgarian star starting to burn bright once more.
While much has changed for both players since they split their two FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings in 2017 at the Fever-Tree Championships (Dimitrov won 6-3, 3-6, 6-3) and the Citi Open (Medvedev won 6-4, 6-2), Friday’s clash will certainly be popcorn viewing.
“[I’m] really happy for Grigor, that he's coming back to his shape,” said Medvedev. “I think he's [No.] 78 in the ATP Rankings right now, before this week, so he's definitely going to go up. I saw some matches of him here. He was playing unbelievable, I think… We all know what he's capable of when he's playing like he can.”
Medvedev has carried his hot form into five matches at this year’s US Open, striking 78 aces (only behind John Isner) and 52 forehand winners. He's won 78 per cent of his first-service points and enjoyed remarkable consistency on return of serve (a tournament-leading 122 first-serve points won and No. 2 overall with 128 second-serve points won).
But former World No. 3 Dimitrov should be feeling fresher, having won four matches over 10 hours and 16 minutes (he received a walkover over Borna Coric in the second round) - compared to Medvedev's court time of 12 hours and 33 minutes.
Looking ahead to playing Medvedev, Dimitrov said, “He's been pretty focused throughout the whole summer. He's been having a great summer, a lot of confidence building up, winning Cincinnati, being already here. A lot of good matches, a lot behind him really… I've just seen him a little bit in the background here, how he has played. Clearly, he's doing something right. Again, it's not going to be an easy match.”
Medvedev may have had a rancorous relationship with Big Apple fans during his run over the past 12 days, but one of the ATP Tour’s brightest talents in 2019 has finally won over their hearts with honest on-court interviews and sterling performances. Taped up, and willing to move away from his traditional baseline game, Medvedev showcased his personality and tactical nous in his four-set quarter-final victory over 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka.
Over the past six weeks, the 23-year-old Medvedev has gone on a tear, compiling a 19-2 record and has a circuit-best 49 match wins in 2019. He captured his first ATP Masters 1000 crown last month at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, which propelled him into the Top 5 of the ATP Rankings for the first time. Medvedev also finished runner-up at the ATP 500-level tournament in Washington, D.C. (l. to Kyrgios) and, prior to Cincinnati, at the Masters 1000-level Coupe Rogers in Montreal (l. to Nadal).
More About Medvedev
* Cincinnati Match Report: Medvedev Claims Maiden Masters Crown
* Feature: The Perplexing, Unorthodox Artist Who Just Keeps Winning
* ATP Rankings Tribute: Behind A Renewed Mindset, Medvedev Cracks The Top 10
While Medvedev is already assured of his place at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November, his semi-final opponent on Friday at Flushing Meadows is beginning to recapture the kind of form and confidence that took him to the 2017 season finale trophy.
From a career-high No. 3 in the ATP Rankings to his current position of No. 78, Dimitrov has endured a loss of form, a right shoulder injury and constant questioning ever since the biggest day of his career in south-east London. His five-set quarter-final win over Roger Federer, the five-time former champion, on Tuesday night, indicate that the 28-year-old has finally turned a corner.
Having come into the US Open with a 12-15 record on the 2019 season, Dimitrov is now within one win of 300 career match victories. He'll be sure to draw upon his experience of competing in two previous Grand Slam championship semi-finals at 2014 Wimbledon (l. to Djokovic) and at the 2017 Australian Open (l. to Nadal) in order to attain a new chapter in his career.
More About Dimitrov
* Quarter-final Reaction: 'It Was That Low I Don't Even Want To Go There'
* Quarter-final Match Report: Dimitrov Stuns Federer In Five Sets
* Feature: Dimitrov On His Renewed Perspective: ‘This Is What I Was Meant To Do’
A CLOSER LOOK AT MEDVEDEV vs. DIMITROV (Stats Through US Open QFs)
|D. MEDVEDEV (5)||G. DIMITROV|
|59%||1st Serve %||62%|
|78%||1st Serve Points||77%|
|55%||2nd Serve Points||59%|
|44||Break Points Faced||29|
|84%||Service Games Held||89%|
|118 mph||Average 1st Serve||115 mph|
|93 mph||Average 2nd Serve||86 mph|
|130 mph||Fastest Serve||132 mph|
|77%||Returns in Play||73%|
|33%||1st Return Points Won||32%|
|56%||2nd Return Points Won||47%|
|28||Breaks of Serve||19|
|93||Return Games Played||72|
|30%||Return Games Won %||26%|
|91||Forehand Unforced Errors||72|
|52||Backhand Unforced Errors||69|
|21||Winners at Net||23|
|186||Total Unforced Errors||160|
|78 of 129||Net Points Won||64 of 90|
|60%||Net Points Won||71%|
|51%||Baseline Points Won||53%|
|12:33||Time on Court||10:16|
Editor's Note - an earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that Dimitrov lost to Federer in the 2014 Wimbledon semi-finals. In fact, he lost to Djokovic.
Statistics courtesy: Leo Levin/SMT