Medvedev Makes First Slam QF At US Open
Daniil Medvedev downplayed talk of him being a favourite at this year's US Open. The World No. 5, who beat Novak Djokovic en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati last month, said he hadn't even reached a major quarter-final yet.
But the let chatter begin in earnest now. The fifth-seeded Russian reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final on Sunday, beating German qualifier Dominik Koepfer 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(2) to setup another potential matchup with the World No. 1 from Serbia.
“I was completely focussed,” Medvedev said. “I think it was an amazing match. Of course it's tough to say when you're playing it and not watching it on TV, but I honestly think it was a Top 10 match, both from me and from him.”
Djokovic leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Medvedev 3-2, including a four-set win earlier this year at the Australian Open. But Medvedev has won their past two meetings, on clay at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in April and on 17 August at the Western & Southern Open. The Russian beat Wawrinka two years ago at Wimbledon during their only FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.
“I have huge respect for both of them. They are both amazing champions of our sport,” Medvedev said.
The Russian rebounded from a slow start as the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd cheered on the underdog Koepfer, who was steadier than Medvedev from the baseline in the opener.
The 25-year-old German had been having the tournament of his life. Before the US Open, Koepfer had only one Grand Slam win to his name (Wimbledon 2019) and he was trying to become the first qualifier to reach the US Open quarter-finals in 11 years (Gilles Muller, 2008).
“It was a goal to qualify. I didn't expect to go into the fourth round,” Koepfer said.
But the German was playing in his seventh match of the past two weeks, and as the fourth-round tilt wore on, the rallies he was taking in the opening set increasingly went to Medvedev, who, only two weeks ago, proved steadier than Djokovic from the back of the court. The Russian used angles to keep Koepfer on the move and dug his way out of trouble on serve, often going big – 121 mph – on his second serve.
Koepfer, behind chants of “Let's go, Koep-fer!”, looked to mount one more rally in the fourth set, but Medvedev shut down any opening the German saw. The fifth seed broke back in the third game and at 1-2, down 0/40 on serve, Medvedev won five straight points.
A shaky start – a double fault and a wild forehand – set Koefper back in the tie-break, and Medvedev didn't give anything away.
“I went on the court and thought, 'Okay, I'm going to play flat, going to wait for some unforced errors from him, probably he's going to be nervous, first fourth round in his life,'” Medvedev said.
“And he was playing all the lines. He was, let's say, destroying me. It was 6-3, 2-0. I just didn't know what to do.I did something I would not be capable of one year ago, I started playing as aggressive as I could, taking the ball as early as I could, which I usually don't do. That's why I won, and that's why this victory is even more precious.”