Medvedev Moves Into US Open Semi-finals
Russian also qualifies for Nitto ATP Finals in November
It wasn’t always pretty, but a taped-up Daniil Medvedev drifted away from his traditional baseline-dominated game on Tuesday afternoon with net-rushing tactics to work his way into the US Open semi-finals.
Medvedev, who saved one set point in the first set tie-break, booked his place in a first Grand Slam championship semi-final with a 7-6(6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka in two hours and 34 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I had a big pain in my quadriceps and I thought I wasn't going to be able to continue the match in the first set," Medvedev told ESPN during an on-court interview. "I saw that it was bothering Stan because I know how it is to play an injured player. It's tough because you try to just put the ball in and then the guy starts to get everything. So I feel really strange about this match, but I am happy to be in my first major semi.
"Before the match I was feeling perfect. But in the first game of the match I hurt my quadriceps a little bit. I took a painkiller in the first set and in the fourth set I started feeling it. I will see tomorrow morning how I feel, but I will do my best to be 100 per cent for the semis."
By becoming the youngest semi-finalist at Flushing Meadows since Novak Djokovic (23) in 2010, the 23-year-old Russian also secures his spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, the elite season finale to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November.
Medvedev, who has won an ATP Tour-best 49 matches this year, now has two days to rest ahead of a clash against third-seeded Swiss Roger Federer, the five-time former champion, or Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria on Friday. Federer leads Medvedev 3-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and Medvedev is 1-1 against Dimitrov.
After a rancorous relationship with fans during his US Open run, Medvedev appears to have finally won their hearts after an honest on-court interview with ESPN commentator Tom Rinaldi. Asked to characterise his relationship with New York fans, following his victory over Wawrinka, Medvedev said, "I have two words: first one, 'electric'. Second one, 'controversy'. What I've done is not good but many people still support me and many people don't like me. What I can say is that I try to be myself. I have to say 'Sorry guys and thank you'."
Medvedev broke No. 23 seed Wawrinka in the first game, but brutal rallies and seven double faults eventually proved to be costly for a player who initially had tape on his right thigh, before having it cut off. Wawrinka got back into the match with a break at 4-5, but Medvedev regrouped and won the first three points of the tie-break courtesy of net approaches and drop shots — far from the 23-year-old's normal baseline-dominated game. Wawrinka worked his way to 6/5, but with time on a forehand struck it wide.
Wawrinka’s inability to gain a foothold or a period of consistency in their second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting gave rise to Medvedev breaking for a 3-1 advantage in the second set. Medvedev began to strike with greater fluency and, coupled with his varied tactics, it forced Wawrinka to respond. Having committed 21 unforced errors in the first set, Medvedev cut it to four in the second set.
Wawrinka, who has recovered from 0-2 sets down on six occasions in his career, won eight of the first nine points in the third set. He later overcome four break points when serving for the set in a 12-minute game at 5-3, finally closing out on his third set point to keep alive his hopes. But Medvedev dominated the fourth set as 33-year-old Wawrinka, who’d beaten defending champion Djokovic in the fourth round, experienced a let-down to finish with a total of 38 unforced errors.
"I think in general he's playing really well," Wawrinka. "He's really solid. He has a tough game to play. I didn't start well. I never really found the right rhythm. I wanted to play between staying back and being offensive. I didn't serve so well… He was there when he need it, and he was the better player today.
"He's showing the last few weeks that anything can happen with him, so for sure he's going to have a shot [at the title]. He just need two more matches.”
Monte Carlo resident Medvedev 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. Prior to two left knee surgeries in August 2017, three-time major champion Wawrinka had reached that year’s Roland Garros final (l. to Nadal). The Swiss is now 27-17 in 2019, highlighted by a runner-up finish at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (l. to Monfils) in February.